It has been ten years but I finally convinced Kisa to get a Christmas tree. A real, honest to goodness, pine needles and sap, living, breathing tree. It took me three hours to decorate it and three minutes to decide I’m conflicted. For starters, I’m not used to having to buy a tree. Call me spoiled but where I’m from you cut down your own tree and heft it home. I have memories of my parents scoping out the perfect spruce, eyeballing it from every angle, finally deciding on “the one” only to not find it again when we returned to cut it. See, searching and acquiring couldn’t happen on the same day for some reason. It was always a process. Painstaking. Going back, Dad and I would circle trees that all looked the same asking each other, “is this it? Is this one it?” When we finally decided we had refound “The Tree” we would haul it home for mom’s inspection. She would inevitably sniff, “that’s not it.” Dad refused to go back into the woods so he would make do with a hacksaw and drill – literally cutting branches from one side and drilling them into another to fill mom’s imaginary gaps. I’m surprised we didn’t break out the gorilla glue and duct tape to finish the project. In the end we had a perfect tree even if we had to tie it to the wall. It was perfect. At least that’s how I remember it.
The other conflict I’m having is the absence of family. Decorating and dolling up the house has been completely and utterly up to me this year (and every year, come to think of it). My husband has admitted the decorations and red and green look nice but he’s never been “into” hanging boughs of holly and all that jazz. It never bothered me in the past. I guess having a fake tree took the romance out of decorating it – plastic upon more plastic. This year as I negotiated ornaments, breathed in pine and hummed Jingle Bells I was filled with nostalgia. I couldn’t help but think of Christmases long, long ago on the island. It’s one of the few memories I have of — and I and the act of being sisters. Each taking a turn to hang something precious on the tree; handmade ornaments that meant something.
So, here I am. Conflicted and content all at once. I guess that’s the status quo this time of year. It really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.