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 jamiejanosz.blogspot.com.
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.