Crying in Home Depot at Christmas

By on December 14, 2017

By Jamie Janosz

So, I had a slight little meltdown in the middle of Home Depot.

We were there to by a new kitchen faucet, a cement-spreader-thingy, and a Christmas tree.

My daughter and I have always held out for live Christmas trees. We would go to a nearby tree farm and chop one down. Or, if we were lazy, we would go to the Menard’s parking lot. But, it was still real.

I didn’t care that it was messy and left a trail of needles coming in and going out. I didn’t care that I was terribly allergic so my hands and arms would be covered with a prickly itchy rash when I was done decorating (even if I wore gloves). I didn’t care that it slopped pine-needly water all over our carpet or – one year – tipped completely over, ornaments and all, because I bought a tree with a wobbly crooked trunk.

I loved my real Christmas tree.

But this year I had a small dilemma. We had given away our rusty, inept tree stand when we moved to Florida. We thought we’d buy a new one. The new ones were $30 and the tree was at least $40 for a decent one. It made sense to buy a fake tree, right?

I circled the fake trees five times. They were all lit up and stately. There was not a crooked trunk among them. They even sold fake pine tree spray for ambiance.

My husband Milt and I talked about it like grown ups. Maybe this was the year to do it. To buy a boxed-up, nicely portable tree. I could do this, couldn’t I? It made sense. Perfect sense.

But I couldn’t.

So we went and looked at kitchen faucets.

Then Milt had to find his cement squeegee thingy.

And then I sat down on one of those metal low carts used for toting lumber, and I started to cry.

It was okay. Nobody was there. And I was kind of PMSing. But I cried. Big sloppy tears. Because we’ve moved. And it’s 80 degrees in December. And it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all.

Milt was a wee bit concerned. He said I should go ahead and buy the real one. Either way. “Maybe you need it for your mental health,” said my loving husband.

But I didn’t. I bought a $75 fake tree. When I got home I kept looking at it in that box. And I thought about Christmas. And I realized it wasn’t all bad, this new way of celebrating. We went to a Christmas boat parade and watched lit up Santas and snowman glide down the river. We admired decorated palm trees. We put up Christmas lights without freezing – actually we got kind of hot. I went to church and sang carols, led by a bearded dude in shorts, wearing flip flops.

And I realized – like the Grinch – that Christmas is more than just a tree.

So last weekend we decorated our new tree – we are naming him “Wesley” as his boxed label says, “7-foot Wesley Spruce.”

He is beautiful and kind. And he doesn’t make me rashy.

Merry Christmas to each of you – no matter what your circumstance may be. Some Christmases fit our hopes and tradition and expectation. Some decidedly do not.

But, you know. And, I know. That Christmas is not about the right tree or the perfect cookie or the most beautifully wrapped present.

Love to you all this Christmas – as we celebrate our Savior who was born and the new life we have been given. As you hug your children and love on your parents. As you sing sweet carols and lick a peppermint cane.

Merry Christmas one and all.

This post originally appeared at


Jamie Janosz is the author of When Others Shuddered, Eight Women Who Refused to Give Up. A faculty member at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL for 16 years, she is now the Content Development Manager. She and her husband love vintage clothes, architecture, cars, music, and rockabilly events. Their college-aged daughter is decidedly modern and helps keep their feet planted in the 21st century.


Photo by Denise Johnson on Unsplash


April Fields

December 15, 2017 @ 11:16


I so get this. But, if I have learned anything at all I do know that sometimes the only way to get past a thing is to go right through the tough middle. Adapting to change and new circumstance calls for determination fueled by a combination of resolve and bravery shored up with a running internal pep talk. You can do this! How hard can this be? It’s not written in stone! Keep what works, discard what doesn’t!

All that sounds so good. I know, because that pesky cheerleader has been pushing me since childhood. There have been those times when I had to stand my ground and tell her to just hush and let me feel how I want to feel. Eventually I usually have begrudgingly conceded that she is mostly right.

Just saying – from this side of the last half, I’ve finally figured out that just because you have to do a thing one way for awhile doesn’t mean you can’t do it again the way you’ve always loved sometime in the future. Change, especially the sort that threatens to undo what is held as sacred, if embraced, can be an exercise in adding on – not subtracting from. 🙂

Jamie Janosz

December 15, 2017 @ 15:32


Thanks, April. And – you’re right – this second half is different, but also so great. I am now an empty nester (kind of – although she’s currently home from college). That also took some adjustment, but I can honestly say that I love both parts of my life.

April Fields

December 16, 2017 @ 12:52


Love all the parts! Yes! Empty nest is a rite of passage for sure, albeit a messy tangle of opposite emotions as melancholy attempts to hold the new liberty hostage. The upside for a writer is the rich vein of inspiration. Life is a circle though. Now I watch my oldest daughter taking her turn in the process and find that I am reliving the tug of war between what was and what will be as my two oldest grands take fight. So now I feel her angst as well as my own but at least now I know to stay focused on the horizon. And tap the resource. 🙂

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