"Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree."
Christmas isn’t my favorite holiday and I am always thankful when it’s over. It seems to be the only time of year when I examine my life and realize I’m not exactly where I want to be – the holiday season makes my short comings blaringly more obvious to me and it also gets in the way of my ambition to change my circumstances, since everyone is on their way to Bali or some other exotic locale. Nonetheless, I buck up, because I have an 11-year-old daughter – and like any True Blue American child: it is her absolute favorite holiday. (She finished her “wish list” before Halloween.) Right after Thanksgiving, she starts the daily morning inquisition: “Mommy is today the day that you are going to get the tree? [So and so] has already put theirs up.” I muster up any Christmas spirit I have and respond with the all-time best answer to any question, “soon.”
To avoid being one of those pitiful people driving around on Christmas Eve with a tree on the top of their car, I got my act together the Monday after Thanksgiving – and I took off for the inevitable. As I set foot on the Christmas tree lot, my eyes began to dart rapidly at the choices – and I waste no time. As the salesman follows me around, I ask for his opinion. “Do you think this one looks good?”, I ask. “What about this one?” He placates me, nods his head and with a lack of enthusiasm says, “Oh, yes, yes miss - that’s a very good one.” I reply, more enthusiastically: “Ok, wrap it up! I’ll take it!”
The ride home is always a nail-biter, because I can’t quite comprehend how that little bit of twine keeps the tree from sailing off the roof of my car onto oncoming traffic. Accordingly, I avoid high speeds at all costs, take side streets and pray.
As soon as I arrive at home and think: “that wasn’t so bad”, it’s time to start untangling the lights. I plug in the first set and realize only half of the lights on the string work. With confidence, I attempt to figure out the problem – and then: I get electrocuted. “Ok”, I say to myself, “that was a fluke.” I move on to the next string of lights and – yep: I get electrocuted again! I dropped the lights, slumped into my chair and started balling. As tears quickly stream down my face, a voice inside reminds me to “pull it together, because your daughter is about to be home and you can’t let her see you crying over a half-lit Christmas tree.” Reminding myself of my main goal in my life, which is not to contribute to making my daughter as neurotic as I am.
Minutes later, Stella walks in the door, sees the barren tree, runs up to it, throws her arms around it and exclaims: “Our tree is here – and it’s so beautiful!” She turns to me and adds: “Thank you for going to get it, Mama!” In that very moment, Stella again reminds me of what’s important: that nothing will go as I wish in life. My preconceived notion of what life should be is my problem. But, if I can let that all go, embrace the moment and accept what IS – I probably wouldn’t be in tears, swearing at a Christmas tree right now.