What’s the moment that you finally realize that maybe you are ready to be an adult? I’m not sure, but I think I had mine last night.
First, the backstory. Last year, after dealing with buying real Christmas trees for years, and then with keeping them watered, and cleaning up the pine needles they shed, and worrying about whether my stand was going to collapse, I finally broke down and bought a fake tree. Ten bucks, tabletop sized, lights already on, stand built in. Perfect for the end table, out of Coco’s reach, but still visible from the entire living room. Ho ho ho!
So last night, after enjoying a lovely evening of wine and snacks at Courtney’s house—which was decorated beautifully, with a gorgeous tree and lights and a paper chain she made herself—I came home feeling inspired to get going on my own holiday decor. I roused my husband from the couch, where he was happily watching Miami Ink, then went upstairs and fetched my very small fake tree and box of ornaments. It was only once I came downstairs, en route to that end table, that my husband said, “What happened to your tree’s stand?” I looked down at the base, where there are supposed to be three pieces of plastic. There were only two. I went back upstairs, checked to see if the piece had fallen off somewhere (no) or got stashed in a box (nope). Then I remembered a few weeks back, when I was cleaning out the very closet where I keep my Christmas stuff and my tree. There HAD been a lot of odd little bits and pieces of things I tossed, thinking they were not important. Turns out, maybe I was wrong.
The tree could not stand with only two legs. Wasn’t happening. I was completely bummed out, determined to somehow fix it, even when my husband kept saying we could go today and just get another one. I was in such a state of disappointment that eventually he went into the bedroom, found a coat hanger, and came back to try to somehow attach it to the bottom and make it balance. “Is that going to work?” I asked. “It might,” he replied, and then out came the duct tape. After a few minutes, the tree was standing. Lopsided, but up. Of course, there was also tape all around the base, which I’d somehow have to cover or hope nobody noticed. Frankly, it looked kind of pathetic, three legs and a hanger, glopped all up with tape, tilting. Sitting there, looking at it, I realized I had a choice to make.
Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have even thought about putting that tree out. Even five, no big deal. But now…I mean, I’m 36 years old. I’m having a party in a couple of weeks, and all my friends and family (in laws, too) will be here. It shouldn’t matter if I have a sad, crooked little tree. Isn’t that what the Charlie Brown special is all about? But at the same time, I want to believe that maybe, just maybe, I’m past my coat-hanger Christmas tree years. That maybe I can splurge and have one that doesn’t look like, well, like it’s barely held together with duct tape. Maybe it’s the end of an era, or I’m suddenly shallow. Or maybe, I’m just a grown up now. And most grown ups, with jobs and a retirement plan, don’t have a broken, taped up tree missing a leg.
So today, I’m going to go buy a new tree. I’ll probably feel bad about it, but I will do it. And when Christmas if over, I’ll take off the ornaments, put them away, and then I’ll count the legs on my tree, just to be safe. Because that’s what adults do. They check, and double check. They make sure. One, two three legs. All there.