Friday, November 28, 2008

Saddest Christmas Tree Ever...

After much internal debate, I put up our Christmas tree today. It has become a tradition for me, putting the tree up the day after Thanksgiving. I used to insist on a live tree, but a couple of years ago I found one of those pre-lit ones on sale right after Christmas, and I haven't looked back. Talk about easy...

I never debated before about having a tree. It was always just assumed that we would have one. Four years ago, when Sweet Girl was in the Persian Gulf the FIRST time, I had a really hard time at Christmas. I didn't feel much like celebrating anything. I did put the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving, but my heart wasn't in it. Especially when I was sliding it into place and it tipped over. The only ornaments that broke were Sweet Girl's collectible Hallmark ones. I sat down and sobbed.

This year she's not in the Persian Gulf, but she's not coming home for Christmas. She has duty on Christmas Day, and she said it's too far to come for so little time. I can understand her point, but still.... She has her own place now, and she's excited about being in her condo for the first time at Christmas. Last year she had just bought her place when she went out to the Gulf again. Those deployments always seem to include being away for Christmas.

One thing that finally convinced me to put the tree up this year was that NOT putting it up would be way too much like my mother. She always said she hated Christmas, and I can kind of understand, since she was a single mom with 5 kids to try to make happy. But she didn't have to hate it enough for the rest of us. She resisted putting up a tree, even if we were having Christmas dinner at her house. One year she took the tree down WHILE WE WERE STILL EATING DINNER. Another year she didn't put up a tree at all; she just hung a couple of ornaments on a plant.

I'll bet you thought I would never get around to telling you about the saddest Christmas tree ever....

When Sweet Girl was two and a half, my divorce from her dad was final on December 23rd. I don't guess there is a GOOD time for a divorce to be final, but Christmas time seemed the worst of all. She and I were living in a single-wide trailer that seemed perpetually cold to me. Literally and emotionally. I was in my first year of teaching, I was teaching middle school, and the pressures of the impending holiday only added to my stress. I kept putting off getting a Christmas tree, mainly because I didn't know how to go about it. And I was stubborn about asking for help. Or something.

Finally I went to the nearby Piggly Wiggly and bought one of the last trees they had, something along the lines of Charlie Brown's tree. I drove a very small car, so this is what getting the tree home entailed: I drove to Mom's office and borrowed the company van, switching the car seat, then I went to the Pig and bought the tree, then I took it home, then I drove back to the office and retrieved my car, switching the car seat again. Hauling a sleepy toddler with me the whole time.

I may have purchased a tree stand, or I may have managed to retain custody of one from the marriage. But the tree I bought wouldn't fit in the stand. The base of the tree was too fat. And I DID NOT retain custody of any tools from the marriage. I had no saw, no hatchet, nothing with which to make that tree fit into the stand. All I had was a very large butcher knife, with which I furiously set about chopping off enough of the base of that tree to make it fit. Furious being the key word. The harder I chopped, the harder I cried. And I accomplished nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Usually I'm not one to admit defeat, but there was nothing else I could do. I could have called my ex and asked him to come help, but I'd have died and gone to hell first. So in the end I stood the tree up in a corner, with not the first ornament on it, and that was our Christmas tree. Sweet Girl thought it was very cool that we had a tree in the house. She didn't know it was supposed to have stuff on it.


Professor said...

I think at some point in our lives we all have a Christmas like that. And I'm glad you put your tree up- I swear no matter how depressed I ever get the Christmas tree makes me feel better. (One time I put mine up in July for a week to make me feel better...)

Anonymous said...

Only a mother would be willing to do all that!