I Decided Not to Get a Tree This Year

December 20, 2014 at 2:23 pm 2 comments

Christmas is easier when you’re a kid. Naughty and nice is pretty uncomplicated. The fondest desires of your heart fit in a short letter. Reindeer can fly. And, after your Dad purchases, carries, and puts up the tree, you hang ornaments on it.

As an adult, Christmas can be a bit more complicated. There’s a whole lot of extra stuff to do in December—in addition to getting through a month with a balanced bank account, food in the ‘fridge, and pants on whenever you leave the house.

It’s not that grown-ups dislike Christmas. It’s just that, as you get older, you gain a better understanding of the villainous perspective. In the midst of shopping, baking, greeting cards, get-togethers, grab bag coordination, extreme calendar juggling, extension cord quests, and multiple runs to the state store, it’s possible to see a certain allure to the idea of tossing it all off Mt. Crumpit.

For me, when all else fails, Christmas comes when I’m decorating the tree. It’s the first time I play Christmas carols, the perfect soundtrack for reviewing ornaments. Little balls of time travel wrapped in tissue. I smile. I tear up. I handle bits of molded plastic as if they were Faberge eggs. It’s about the only time I sing something besides Happy Birthday. And it sometimes leads to dancing.

Putting up the tree is the most Christmasy thing I know. It’s more Christmasy than Christmas Day. It’s more moving than a church service. It’s transformative. It’s peaceful. It’s magic.

If that kid from Polar Express came in and shook the bell while I was decorating my tree, I would absolutely hear it jingle.

So, it may come as a surprise to hear that, this year, I decided not to get a tree. It seemed the sane thing. I was feeling overwhelmed. I was running out of time. And, it’s silly really, for me to go through all of that effort when, most years, I’m the only one who even sees my tree. (Really, who would even know if I decided to not get a tree?)

And, so, last week, being a mature adult who knows how to prioritize and get things done, I decided not to get a tree. And I felt relieved. And kind of sad.

And I told a good friend, “I’m not getting a tree.” And then, a bit surprised and a little annoyed, I heard myself add, “Well, maybe. I’m not sure. I might get a tree.”

And I decided to get a tree.

Then I wrenched my knee. There was no way I’d be able to get up and down the attic steps 432 times, let alone drag and lift a tree into the stand. And, so, last week, I decided not to get a tree. And I felt relieved. And kind of sad. And kind of old.

Then I heard my nephew was coming for a visit, and I knew:  I have to have a tree! But the week got crazy. And windows of opportunity kept slipping shut. And, all of the sudden, the debate was over. Time was up. I was kind of stunned, really, but, at that point, I could allow that it wasn’t my decision. There simply wasn’t time left.

And so, yesterday, I sadly, glumly, sullenly, horribly, despairingly, finally decided that I would not get a tree this year.

I left the house with a pretty long to-do list. By late in the day, I had finished off the Christmas shopping, stocking stuffers included, and met a friend for lunch. The packages that had to be mailed were at the Post Office. Groceries for cookie baking and various get-togethers were in the trunk. All I had left to do was deposit checks, which I had been carrying around in my purse — endorsed! — for weeks. Walking into that bank felt like breaking the tape at the end of a very long marathon. Not that I have any idea what running a marathon actually feels like, but I was feeling like I might just make it through the holidays. I felt very grown-up and responsible and on top of things. I slipped the checks — which would cover the mortgage, car, lights, etc. — to the teller. She said, “Okay, you’re all set to deposit. Do you want anything back?” The answer was No.

But, then. I decided to get a tree.


Good luck, everyone. I hope you find your own life-preserving moment when it all comes back to you.

Entry filed under: Life Preservers. Tags: , , , .

Merry Christmas Blog Friends Dear Peter Jackson

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. WritingbyEar  |  December 21, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I decided not to bake cookies this year. Too few people, don’t need the calories, too much work. I’ll just buy a cookie tray. I was convinced. Until yesterday. I wavered. Now there are 9 dozen cookies in the freezer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 2. B. Schmidt  |  December 23, 2014 at 11:38 am

      Hooray! Good for you Chris. Merry Christmas!



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