Monday, December 14, 2015

Oooh, Christmas Tree!

December 2011

Christmas trees are for the happy, for the safe and secure, for those tight knit, hot-chocolate-drinking, marshmallow-roasting families to sit around in their adorable flannel pajamas. They’re NOT for the hurting, the sad, the bitter, and the lonely... or so I thought.

There were years before and after my separation and divorce where buying a tree seemed physically and emotionally arduous to me, more depressing than uplifting. The only reason I carried out the obligation was because I had two children who depended on me to make the season bright, to uphold the old and create the new traditions.

When my marriage first started to sour, the last thing I wanted was to celebrate Christmas, and I certainly wasn’t going to get a tree. My dear, sweet, super-Jewish friend, Shari, never had a tree growing up, but those Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie visions danced in her head and she wanted in. Shari begged me to let her come to the tree lot with us. At first I agreed, only to later confide in her that I wasn’t much in the mood for the season and we were going to skip out on a tree that year. The next night there was a knock at my door. I looked through the peep hole and saw only green. When I opened the door, there was the most perfect tree just standing there. Behind it was the most perfect friend, holding it up. I’ll never forget what Shari did for me that year, and how she knew that even if I didn’t want a tree, I needed a tree.
December 2011 with my beautiful mother

My mother said no one should ever shop for a Christmas tree alone. I’ve done it. She’s right. She made it a priority to always meet me at the lot, even surprising me one year when I’d completely had it! I turned around and there she was... with a smile, open arms, and a piece of crumpled Kleenex from her pocket to dry my tears.

 In the years since she’s been gone, my aunt and my dad have been there to help us find the straightest, plumpest, fullest, fattest Douglas fir in town. 

December 2014 with my Dad
December 2013 with my Aunt Shirley
One thing that will never change is that once the tree is securely tied to the top of the car, I play Kenny Loggins’ “Celebrate Me Home,” and drive slowly down the street. It’s my favorite 12-minute ride of the year. I’ll bet that whoever sees us thinks we’re on our way to a perfect night, and they’re right. It’s OUR perfect!

Back when I was taller than my kids, the biggest pain was trying to figure out how to get the damn tree off the car and into the house. One year we flagged down an alarm company patrol guy.   Other years, my brother, my prom date, and a buff neighbor rode to the rescue.  
December 2008 with my brother, Jeffrey

Here’s a piece of advice for the single and anyone else who’s harried, frazzled, and stressed -- ask for help and accept help when it’s offered! Tis NOT the season to kill yourself trying to do it all! Now that my 15-year old son tips the scales at 180 and hovers near the 6-foot mark, he does the honors.

I’m glad I didn’t bah-humbug it, and thankful that my friends and family wouldn’t let me. Christmas trees aren’t just for the happy. They’re for the hopeful, for the grateful, for the loving, and the loved… and they can be a shining light when all else seems kind of dismal and dark.

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree,
Such pleasure do you bring me!