It’s amazing how something you’ve been waiting for so long suddenly shows up at your doorstep one afternoon and you found out you might not be as prepared for it as you thought you’d be. This year I bought my first Christmas tree, and I might have it decorated by the time I get around to taking it down sometime next month.
I’ve gotten used to spending Christmas on one coast or the other over the years. Like John McClain, I’ve headed out to the coast for a few beers and a few laughs every Christmas, but no matter how much fun I had spending Christmas on the white sandy beaches of Florida, I had this nagging feeling that something was wrong. At heart, I’m a Christmas traditionalist.
White sandy beaches are nice, but stringing Christmas lights on a palm tree just isn’t the same. Which is why a couple of weeks ago I bought my very first Christmas tree on the internet. It was a snap decision, I ordered it off Amazon and a couple of days later there was a big box sitting out on my doorstep when I got home. I drug the box inside the first night, but it took me two weeks to actually open it up.
It’s not that I wasn’t excited about Christmas, in fact, I’ve been looking forward to the holiday for months. Christmas at home; the tree all decorated, presents wrapped and stacked, a fire roaring in the fireplace as snow fell softly outside. It seemed the perfect plan, the traditional Christmas I’d been wishing for, but like every plan, it wasn’t long before it fell off the rails. My boundless optimism was running headlong into reality, just like usual.
A week before Christmas and the tree was still sitting in the box in the middle of my living room. An Amazon cart full of presents, but not a single one actually purchased, much less wrapped. I’d been aiming for the perfect Christmas, but my house looked more like Ebenezer Scrooge’s instead. It didn’t help that across town my sister-in-law was showing me up again.
Their 15-foot tree was fully decorated from head to toe, our family’s signature bubble lights twinkling softly, and there was an ever growing deluge of perfectly wrapped gifts spilling out from under the tree. Jorden laughed when I told her I hadn’t even got my tree out of the box yet. For weeks she’d spent two hours a night decorating the tree, even enlisting my brother, carefully balanced on their tallest ladder to place the star at the very top.
This isn’t the first time she’d gotten the upper hand on me at the holidays. Years ago they’d left some things in storage in my basement, and I’d set up their Christmas tree during the holidays, and worse yet, I’d passed it off as my own. That deceit fell apart when Jorden stopped by and recognized the tree, ornaments and all, as her own. She let me keep it up until after Christmas that year, and she may have forgiven me by now.
I guess I’d forgotten how much work the holidays are. Setting up the tree, buying the gifts, it all got a little overwhelming, and instead of digging in and getting to work I’d just turn on Netflix instead. It’s easy to show up at someone’s house for the holidays and to spend Christmas under their tree. It’s a lot harder to have a Christmas under your own tree.
Still, you’ve got to start somewhere. I finally unboxed the tree, and plugged it in. Even without a single ornament it still looked magical on Christmas Eve, twinkling in the darkness as the snow fell softly outside.
Contact David Dolmage