The tree. The Christmas tree! I’m indulging a bit of the holiday spirit, here, and you’re… sick. Geez.
Last year was a sad, sad year for the Christmas tree here at Casa Mir. I can’t believe my children are still speaking to me, quite frankly. I know lots of people believe a real tree is the only way to go, and to you I say this: ummm… okay. Enjoy. For me? Well, first there is the issue of being allergic to pine. So I really couldn’t have a real tree, even if I wanted one. But I don’t want one, because–I don’t know if you’ve noticed this–but real pines? Spit their needles all over the damn place. It’s bad enough they do that outside… why would I voluntarily let it happen inside? Yuck.
Anyway, many many years ago, the ex and I purchased a deluxe fake tree. It served us well. And by “served us well,” I mean that it looked great, and my ex always assembled it. That tree was 7.5 feet tall and each branch had to be hooked into the center pole individually. The branches were color-coded by size; it was all very straight-forward. If you had ten or twelve hours to kill, that is. I think that tree had 80 branches. I’m not sure. Anyway, it wasn’t cheap, but I was only too happy to let the ex claim it during the divorce, because I had no interest in wrangling with it on my own.
Now, of course, you can buy prelit trees, which are not only a fabulous way to avoid detangling strings of lights, but mean that the entire tree is one piece. No more spending a whole day hooking the branches in! Yay! But those prelit trees are kinda pricey.
So last Christmas–my first post-divorce Christmas–I set out to find a new tree. I surveyed the choices and prices and checked my bank account and wondered if maybe we could go without a tree for a year. Blasphemy, of course. We couldn’t be treeless! Maybe I could just buy a little “filler” tree, this year, and get something better, later. Yes. That would work.
I did my bargain shopping homework and did the deed… returning home triumphant with a 4-foot prelit tree. It turns out that 4 feet is just not very tall, when it comes to a Christmas tree. Also? A 4-foot tree isn’t strong enough to support very many ornaments. Or, actually, any ornaments that weigh more than about an ounce. And while the large, expensive prelit trees are wired so that a single burnt-out light won’t affect the rest of the lights, this little cheapo tree was wired with 2 strings of traditional lights.
It had been sitting in the corner of my living room for exactly three days when the top string of lights shorted out. I was left with a tree that would’ve made Charlie Brown cry. Half lit, half in darkness, sporting about four ornaments, and listing to the side. Yeah. It wasn’t my favorite tree.
Today is the day I’ve been waiting for since last January. On the heels of the Stupid Little Tree incident, I visited Target faithfully every single day until the Christmas merchandise was marked down to 90% off. Granted, the selection at 90% off is fairly slim pickings. Whereas prior to Christmas the Target shoppers had their pick of a dozen different sizes and varieties of trees, in late January only the weird ones are left. In November or December, you can buy a regal Douglas Fir or Blue Evergreen in 8-foot prelit splendor. In January, the trees that are left are things like the rare Tanzanian Bottleneck Splinter Pine and Dwarf Majestic Polish Firgreen. You know, the trees that either have very sparse branches or are very tall and thin or are just otherwise weird.
So on the 90% off day, I stood there trying to decide between a pretty cool unlit tree or a sort of strangely shaped yet prelit tree. I vascillated a bit, pacing back and forth, and was seriously considering not getting anything, but spending another Christmas without a proper tree. On one of my pacing passes I noticed the corner of a box buried under some other boxes that didn’t match the rest of the stack. A bit of digging and rearranging revealed My Tree.
My Tree is a 6-foot fiber optic model. It’s not as big as I’d maybe like if I had someone to help me haul it every year, but 6 feet is a perfectly respectable size. It’s nice and full and festive and SO TWINKLY. I heart it. And not just because I only paid $7.94 for it.
I know. I know those of you who believe in real trees with carefully strung lights and candy canes and popcorn strings are rolling your eyes and clutching your chests in horror. That’s okay. I put my tree up all by myself, in about ten minutes (I had to fluff the branches). I sank into the comfy chair and watched the dots of light shimmer for a good twenty minutes. I can hardly wait for the kids to come home tomorrow and help me hang the ornaments. ALL of the ornaments, including the ones that were too heavy for the tree, last year.
Last Christmas was so much about what was missing, what had been lost, and fear of what comes next. As I sat in the dark with the new tree, tonight, I felt as if possibilities were unfolding around me, just beyond my grasp. It’s just the right tree for our little family. Not too big, not too small. A little bit new-fangled. Twinkly in the big dark living room, casting its glow all the way to the base of the stairs and out the windows to the world. I’m ready.