so, I have a Christmas Tree.
We bought it late one night, then went to Target to get stuff to put on the tree. Had to get the right kind of lights: the big bulbs like my dad had, not those silly tiny little ones. The girlfriend wanted "Bubble Lights", something I had never heard of, but the store didn't have them. Didn't have icicles, either, which my girlfriend refers to as "Tinsel". We called the stringy sparkly stuff "Tinsel", but apparently the proper term for that is "Garland".
There's been additions to the tree in the past few weeks: ornaments from her mom's place, the tinsel and bubble lights that were found in another store. A cheesy plastic star from K-Mart. I meant to get stuff from my parents, but didn't get around to it.
A few years ago, while living in an apartment whose regulars reffered to as "The Crackhouse" for obvious reasons, we didn't put up a tree. Instead, somebody found a Christmas cactus, upon which we set a few big chincy plastic bulbs that we scrounged up somewhere. That went on one of those big popcorn tins and under it went the presents for various residents and friends. The ones I had bought stood out because they were wrapped (poorly) in newspaper with duct tape.
Before that, I hadn't put up a tree for years. Somewhere in my middle teens, the Christmas tree became more of a burden than a pleasure. My mom hadn't cared either way for years, so for a few years my brother and I put it up, then for one final year my brother bore that cross alone, then we didn't bother with it any more. The tree was an aluminum one way past its expiration date anyway, the dog had peed on the thing's box at least once, nobody took the least bit of pleasure from doing it or having it up and anything like that was liable to start a fight at any given moment, so we quit doing it. And good riddance.
I hadn't figured on putting up with it again until if I had kids, which is still a long ways off. But this year, we have a tree. And it's pretty. It's like Christmas the way that Christmas is suppossed to be, but never is. We had fun putting it up, have like having it around, a few days from now we'll put presents for each other under it and open them in the morning. Maybe put on Christmas music. Roast chestnuts, or whatever the fuck else it is people do in Norman Rockwell paintings.
Of course, it's not perfect. Life is not a Rockwell painting. But it's nice. I'm not pretending the holidays don't exist this year, actually getting into it a bit instead. Ignore the bad stuff for a day or two, focus on the good stuff.
Good stuff. That's what the Christmas tree means to me this year: Life isn't perfect, but there's elements of that stupid sappy perfect life around us. It's my own chunk of Norman Rockwell, of "Miracle on 34th Street", of Scrooge after the Spirits are through with him. My piece of that perfect Christmas, and a token to remind me of the other good things around.