Monday, December 17, 2012

O, Christmas Tree (of a most humbling nature)

Last year, you may remember that our artificial tree bit the dust last year, right before Christmas. I did two posts about it; one after the tree gave out, and one after we went out and bought a live tree. 

This year, we went to the mountains for the full on Christmas tree experience. We had cocoa. We rode on a tractor. We picked out tree and posed for the Facebook picture as the friendly fellow with the chainsaw cut it down. It was a huge, glorious tree and it scraped the ceiling of the living room. Shutup Roxy especially loved it. So much, that for her first Christmas ever, in thirteen Christmases, starting scratching her back against the bottom branches. 

"ROXY!" I yell a dozen times a day. And, "CHILDREN!", as they round the corner running and graze the tree. 

There are needles everywhere. 

"Did you water it today?" Sean asks. 

"Of course."

"Does it seem like it's dropping a lot of needles?", he asks. 

"It does."

He reaches out and touches a branch and it crumbles in his hand. We both gasp. 

We have a housefull of company coming for Christmas! We have to have a tree! We are agonizing over what to do! In the end, we decide to try to find a cheap tree, something to get us through. I'll have to undecorate the old tree and decorate the new one and I am agonizing over that to the point that I consider having a beer at two this afternoon. 

Sean and the kids go looking for a tree and I spend an hour taking ornaments and lights off the old tree. The branches snap and break and the pile of needles on the floor would fill my kitchen sink. The rest of the family returns, unable to decide because they know - this is my tree. We head out again and find it- the replecement tree, the second stringer. 

We get it home and set it in the stand and cut off the netting. It does not scrape the ceiling. 

"It's smaller than it looked on the tree lot." Sean says. 

I am slightly heartbroken. As I decorate, Sean throws out platitudes like, "Oh, it looks bigger with the lights on it." But the more I on the tree, the better I like it. The more time I spend futzing around with the ornaments and the lights, the lovelier the little tree becomes. 

There is a lesson here! I think to myself. It's like a Christmas spirit thing! I feel all warm and fuzzy. I feel smug

I feel like the biggest asshole in the world. 

There have been words rolling around in my head for the past few days that do not make sense and can not seem to make it onto paper in a coherent way. I rambled for what seemed like an eternity to Katie; nearly 12 and old enough for most truths. I couldn't seem to end the conversation and I couldn't look at her until I finally did, and said "I don't know." And then my kid put her arm around me as I sobbed about something can not, in my worst nightmare, fathom. 

Six hours later, I was mentally high fiving myself for being awesome. It is easy to forget when it's not your reality. It's easy to ignore the things that happen around us when we are safe as houses. It is easy to forget the darkness when we live in the light. 

There have been words rolling around in my head; words like faith and hope and hero and sacrifice and evil and sick and pain. Words that don't make any sense, no matter what order I put them in. The only words that seem to fall correctly everytime, the only words that ring true, are I don't know.


  1. I think those are probably the best words to say.

  2. My head too is swimming in words that I'm struggling to put together coherently. I don't know either, and I feel like admitting that to myself helps too. Good luck with your guests.

  3. I don't know either, Kelly. I am glad you have a beautiful Christmas tree, though. Twinkle lights are very important, especially in times like these.

  4. Unfathomable grief. Unbearable pain. I don't know how they will make it from one moment to the next. Sure puts a lot of things in perspective.

  5. I know some of your guests very well. They won't care about the tree. They will care about you and your family. The tree is incidental!