Christmas trees are a big deal where I come from. They have to be real, they have to be proportional to the room they go up in and they must be decorated with ornaments which are understated, special and have history. My allergies have decided to welcome Christmas trees into its jerk family over the last few years but it’s not made a single difference in how badly I desire a live one for the season (note to self: buy stock in Pfizer).
This year, as of today December 18th, there is no tree in my apartment. It’s at least 10 days overdue, in spite of the annual birthday gift card from my sister to buy it. My ornaments sit in their clear plastic storage box ready to go. Lights work, last year’s Target clearance-purchased foot switch is still in the package, I even have a decorating scheme for the tree (mostly reds, silvers and all-white lights instead of the more room-warming multi-colors). But the room sits empty, waiting. The corner where the tree goes is just kind hanging out, wondering where its buddy is.
This year hasn’t been completely without tradition, however. There has been a tree purchased, put up and decorated. Warm glow basking has occurred. It wasn’t my tree, though. I don’t get to enjoy it daily but I definitely think about it every day. Without a tree of my own, it feels less like Christmas with a week to go than it did when I was keeping myself from watching Elf on November 24th. This is a metaphor for my household, and my household is a metaphor for me.
It’s not for lack of desire. I want a tree, if you couldn’t tell that. The gift card sits perched on my wall with the received Christmas and birthday cards, just waiting. Logistics is really the main problem here. For you see without a car, and my car sharing program’s cars are a 20 minute walk in 13 degrees away, it’s really more an issue of getting the thing. I’ve been fetching and putting up my trees solo for years but it wasn’t until I helped put a tree up this year that I realized how different it is doing it alone. All those times I thought how independent I was, what a modern (yet traditional) woman, wrestling it up the stairs and into the stand all by myself in all its calorie-shedding glory. Cutting away the netting and trying to make sure the thing was standing up straight. And the lights! Stringing the lights only to find out half the strand worked and then unstringing and re-stringing. Decorating while Elf or Love Actually played in the background. The glass of wine on the couch once it was done and the enjoyment of the beautiful twinkling of another year’s tree. These things made me feel so happy, so grown up.
This year my front room looks like it does every other day of the year, save for the white lights I put up in the windows. The Christmas Wreath Yankee Candle infuses the room with a bit of holiday cheer, but not like a tree would. Stringing it, decorating it, enjoying it alone smacks of a totally different feeling than it used to. An opposite feeling, a sad one this time. I don’t want to do it alone. I don’t want to sit by myself and look at it quietly. I don’t want to laugh at Buddy cranking the maniacal jack-in-the-box and have that laugh echo through the walls and hardwood floors before it disappears. I want to share it. This Christmas has the potential to be the saddest and loneliest in a long time and frankly, I’m sort of dreading it. Maybe that’s why the tree isn’t up. If I don’t put a tree up, I can’t take it down. Maybe this whole part of December can slip by fairly unnoticed. I don’t know.
I hope not.