O Tannenbaum

I did not want a Christmas tree this year. The kids agreed to that. But over the course of the month, daughter strung Christmas lights inside and outside the house, requested an Advent calendar, asked about those spiral rolls I make, wondered when we were going to bake Pfeffernusse. I complied with her sweet wishes, and the wishes kept coming.

The day before Christmas eve we went to Nearby Midsized City for a little shopping. She was sad to see ornaments in the store, sad she didn’t have a tree this year.

I realized that my feelings about a tree were all about my mourning, not hers. She wanted a tree. She’s a kid.

The kid gets a tree.

When we got home, son and I scoured our town for a tree. The local sites were all out of cut trees. So we came home and chopped down a tree in our yard. It was a rootball tree from a recent Christmas, and it has since been growing in the yard. I just sawed and sawed away at the trunk until I gave it a little tug and lifted it away from the trunk. It was easier than I thought. Of course, I’ve never chopped down a tree before.

We dragged it inside and struggled to set it in the stand (because we didn’t hack off the lowest little branches. We’ll remember that, for the next time we chop down a tree.) The needles are so prickly. We had to wear gloves to hold it and string the lights. Daughter donned a hat with ear flaps when she dove under the branches to screw the tree into the stand.

That’s our tree. It’s tall and gangly. Some branches grew down instead of out. It’s sad. It’s ugly. It’ll poke your eye out. But it works.

Our Christmas was heartwrenching. Some moments were sweet and gentle. Other moments turned into tears and wailing and recrimination. But those passed. We comforted and forgave one another. What else can we do? It all comes from pain, but sometimes pain is ugly, or mean, or inconsolable. And for those moments when we quietly sat, daughter weaving on her new loom, me reading one of her new books, it was awfully nice to have a tree to sit next to, even this one…especially this one.

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