Here’s a truth about marriage that no one ever tells you: the most difficult part about marriage isn’t compromise. The most difficult part is learning to bite your tongue and not make fun of your spouse’s idiosyncrasies.
By the time you’ve been married as long as I have, the challenge becomes next to impossible. The only thing that keeps me sharing more is the realization that I have even more idiosyncrasies than Giles does. Although, for the record, our children both voted their dad as the more embarrassing of their two parents. Also for the record, that’s probably because their dad goes out of his way to embarrass them. I’m embarrassing without even trying.
But this past weekend, my husband wasn’t trying to embarrass anyone. He was just being over protective of our Christmas tree, which, in turn, was really embarrassing for the rest of us.
Every year, our family goes to a local Christmas tree farm to hunt down the perfect tree. And every year, we pick one that is too tall and requires a great deal of trimming down before it actually fits in our living room.
But not this year.
This year, all four of us went out of our way to find a short tree that would fit in our living room with no problem.
The selection didn’t take long, nor did cutting it down, hauling it back to be bailed and paying for it.
Getting it secured on top of the Jeep lasted so long that at least five other families went through the entire process while the kids and I waited and waited and waited. We waited so long that Giles became an embarrassment as he continued to pull ropes and check the ties on our smaller than normal tree.
The guys who drive the ATVs that haul the trees watched him. The other families watched him. Even the tree farm mutt, Molly, watched him.
But Giles continued to tie ropes, pull on them then tie more knots.
To be fair, I understand my husband’s concern.
Years ago, we were driving down a Virginia highway when the Christmas tree on top of the vehicle in front of us fell off, bounced across the highway and was left on the side of the road. The vehicle in front of us kept going at full speed as though nothing had happened.
Since no one was hurt in the incident, I was amused.
My husband, on the other hand, was apparently traumatized.
To this day, he lives in fear that our Christmas tree will fall off the roof of the Jeep.
“Going to get the family Christmas tree is a tradition,” I recently told a co-worker. “And the most important part is waiting for Giles to secure the tree. That’s followed by his taking side roads because he’s afraid the tree will fall off if we go too fast on a major highway. We also have to stop at least twice to check if the tree is secure.”
This year, Giles broke with tradition. He only stopped once to check that the tree was still secure. But then, it was a much smaller tree than we normally get and therefore only required one stop.
At some point, Giles must have realized how ridiculous he was being, but that was only after he was absolutely convinced that the tree was secure enough for transport. He looked at me and said, “You know, this tree is small enough we probably could have put it in the back of the Jeep and let the kids deal with some branches in their face.”
I agreed, but I also knew that putting the tree on top of the Jeep is as important to Giles as putting the star on top of the tree is for my daughter.
Sometimes, you just have to carry on the tradition.
Which leads me to another truth about marriage that no one ever tells you: the best memories aren’t the romantic ones. The best memories are the ones that highlight our idiosyncrasies, because those are the ones that make each family unique. And those are also the ones that bond us together as a true family.