Picking a Tree -- and a Mood
I love most Christmas carols, particularly if they are sung by Ella Fitzgerald. But “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is the most annoying song of the year. Depending on my mood, this song just seems like a slap in the face. Actually, it makes me want to slap someone in the face. This time of year is not always the most wonderful.
I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. Trust me, I know how lucky I am. Though divorced, I have two healthy kids, healthy parents, a house, “the most wonderful” dog. I am, as is so often hashtagged, “blessed.”
But sometimes, even when we are #blessed, a funk sets in. And frankly, you feel a little lonely—even if you’re not alone.
As a first time empty-nester, I felt a little (okay, a lot) sorry for myself getting our Christmas tree alone. Like anything, the hype is bigger than the actual process of picking a tree. It’s really not as big a deal as I made it out to be. The whole shebang took less than an hour. I drove up to the lot, parked my car, hopped out and went straight to the one I wanted: a seven-foot, narrow Fraser Fir that would fit perfectly in the dining room, giving us enough room to pull chairs around the table without getting impaled by a branch.
Driving home with the Christmas tree stuffed in the back of the station wagon I flipped on the radio. Oozing through the speakers was that “most wonderful” song, that “hap, happiest” song. Was this a cosmic joke? This was most certainly not the song I wanted to hear. I turned off the radio and began humming the song that matched my mood: America’s “This is for all the lonely people.”
Who doesn’t love everything by America, particularly when you are throwing a pity party for one?
This is for all the lonely people
Thinking that life has passed them by
Don’t give up
Until you drink from the silver cup
You never know until you try
I realized how ridiculous I was being, complaining about being alone while passing a homeless man shuffling his way up Wisconsin Avenue, wrapped in a gray blanket that wasn’t even a blanket, but a scratchy carpet pad. I’m feeling sad about buying a Christmas tree alone when so many people A) can’t afford a tree, or B) don’t have a home—let alone, a room—for one?
And full disclosure: my boyfriend had offered to help me with the tree, but I secretly wanted to go it alone so I could maintain my I-am-woman-hear-me-roar mode. Was I intentionally being a martyr? Even my ex-husband kindly offered to help. But it was as if I had something to prove. I can do this by myself. I really don’t need help from anyone—children or men. Though I was grateful Angus was around for moral support. The dog, I do need. That’s not debatable.
After parking on P Street, I half-carried, half-dragged the tree across the street and up the few stairs to my house. I pulled it through the doorway, positioning it on its side in the corner of the dining room. I decided it would be easier to attach the stand to the sawed-off trunk before standing it upright. And then a Christmas miracle occurred. I pushed the tree upward and it stayed. The tree stood there like a soldier standing at attention. No Leaning Tower of Pisa. No swaying. It seemed to be calling out to me, “What are you staring at? String on the lights and let’s get on with it.” It was an easy as that.
That’s when my own little lightbulb turned on. I no longer felt lonely. I felt empowered. And grateful my girls would soon be home to help with the decorating.
Of course, I don’t need a song to tell me how “wonderful” that is.