Hey, did you know that we are now in the Christmas season?  At least we are in the Christmas season for those of us who do not subscribe to the delusion that Christmas starts after Thanksgiving.  I wish we could, as a nation, release ourselves from this belief because that is the reason I missed recording How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which aired on November 30th.  Why would any self-respecting network choose to air a Christmas special in November?  Especially that one, which is clearly the best Christmas special and therefore should be seen as close to the actual day of Christmas as possible.  You have to build the anticipation, am I right?

At any rate, even a curmudgeon like me must admit that we are now in the depth of Christmas joy and miracles.  Feel the magic.  Do you feel it?  I feel it, at least I would if I was still in Maine.  But I’m not in Maine.  I am in Florida, which is a lovely state in many regards but is not really (to my taste anyway) conductive to establishing the Christmas je ne sais quoi.  The palm trees with Christmas lights are charming and all, but they don’t really invite thoughts of elves and fat men in fur coats.  Nonetheless.  Here I am, as jolly as I can be under the circumstances.

(And just in case you plan on robbing my house while I’m gone, be warned that I may be gone but several rabid chickens and a couple housesitters of questionable mental stability are lying in wait for potential burglers.)

Although we weren’t going to be there for the big day, because I am all about nurturing family traditions and filling my house with tree sap I made sure that we decked our halls before we left.  If by “halls” you mean “that little corner of the living room where we stuffed a scrawny tree” which of course I do.

Scrawny trees are sort of our specialty.  We used to go to a cut-your-own-tree place and that was fun and reasonably priced and we liked them.  But then we bought this property and built this house.  Buying this property and building this house did two things: it took every penny that we had and it provided us with three-and-a-half acres of pathetic-looking spruce trees.  Both of these facts rendered the perfectly nice trees at the perfectly nice cut-your-own-tree place completely superfluous.  So now, instead of driving somewhere for a perfectly nice tree, we bundle up and go hunting for a scrawny tree.

Michael and Annabel survey their domain.

Some years it takes us a really long time to find a tree that isn’t crooked or too big or too small or three-quarters naked.  This year it only took us about 15 minutes.


Sam and I fake helping. Yes, I do need more sleep.  Thank you for noticing.

As with most things house-related, during these little seasonal adventures Michael bears the brunt of actual work while the children and I contribute via non-helpful suggestions and zero-attention span.  Eventually, though, we do locate and cut down a tree.  Okay, fine, Michael locates and cuts down a tree.


Annabel is totally helping via supportive commentary.

And that’s how we select our scrawny tree every year.  It’s really okay that our tree isn’t up to snuff, though, because our tree decorations are pretty awful, too.  I insist on following the flawed belief that art and home decor and tree decorations should grow through an organic method, meaning that we don’t actively seek them out in your typical like-and-purchase way.  We make them, or are given them, or wait for them to spontaneously materialize from the staticky bits of fluff that cling to us all winter.  This sounds very wholesome and down home, I know, but really it just means that our tree looks like crap.  Every year, without fail, it looks like the white trash cousin of a real, perfectly nice Christmas tree.  It looks like a dog with mange who got trapped in a craft store.  It looks like the Charlie Brown tree before the miracle of the Christmas story and a Vince Guaraldi soundtrack made it beautiful.  We have no delusion that our tree is beautiful.  It’s not beautiful.  But it is our tree.

If you want to get philosophical about it, you could say that this annual exercise in ugliness helps us pass on one of our cherished values to our children: that the most beautiful things in the world aren’t the perfectly nice things that you can buy, but instead are the perfectly imperfect things that come from love.  But mostly I think it just teaches them that I am a cheap Yankee and I don’t want to pay for a dead tree or crap that sits in my attic for 11 months out of the year.

And that’s okay, too.

What do I care?  I’m in Florida.

Merry Christmas.  May your holidays be perfectly imperfect in every way.

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