In true form, I stand in danger of ruining Christmas – not just for me, but for my husband and possibly my kids. I am the biggest bah-humbug, the whiniest brat. I am wrecking the Christmas buzz. All because of the stupid Christmas tree.
Last year we had the most obscene Christmas tree. It was ginormous. When we brought it home from the farmers market, we put it in the stand and busted out laughing. It took over the entire living room. We literally had to clear furniture out of the room just to fit it in. For days, we joked every time we walked by it. Our mega tree was joyous and beautiful. It perfumed the whole house with its glorious branches. I was in love with it.
Until right before Christmas, when I was exhausted and bloated from salty cheese and credit card debt, I looked at our swollen tree and thought: Ugh, that tree is just Too Much.
So this year, I said to my husband, “Let’s scale down a bit. Let’s get a tree that actually fits in the room.” In a year where the world is suffering the consequences of excess and greed, let’s be good and get a tree that’s within our means.
So my husband went alone (because of scheduling) to the farmer’s market and brought back our Christmas tree. I mean Christmas bush. Shrub, really. It’s skinny and spindly, and I can see the bloody trunk through the sparse branch-ettes.
I hate it. Every time I walk by, I feel resentment bubble up. In a year when the world feels anxious and pessimistic, this sickly tree reminds me of what we’ve lost. I confess, I’ve been crying over the tree.
It makes me sick that I’m crying over the tree. I know there are real problems to cry about — like cancer, war and homelessness. I know the tree didn’t want to be rudely cut out of its home. I know we are lucky we can even afford a tree (though barely). But maybe this is my point –in this particularly bleak year, where is the joy?
I’m trying, TRYING to turn it into a lesson on perspective. I keep telling myself to think of the true meaning of Christmas. I think of Linus standing on stage making a speech about the shepherds abiding in the field. I imagine the tree as a small Christmas miracle –like some kind of Baby Jesus tree.
We decorated it last night. The whole time I was ungrateful and made snide comments about needing to be selective in choosing ornaments since they wouldn’t all fit on the tree. My kids didn’t get it, and my husband showed generosity by ignoring me. I was ashamed, but still couldn’t help grieving the mega trees of Christmases past.
Today all lit up and loaded, it looks kind of sweet –skinny, but bravely shimmering with ornaments that mark our life as a family. Even as I write this, with my back to it, I can feel its eagerness. I know it’s (literally) dying to please me.
So I’m going to buck up and get grateful. I’m going to enjoy the skinny tree. I’ll be kind and water it, and admire it with my kids. I’ll be quiet and ’tis the season.