It was almost like we weren’t meant to have a tree this year. I was so excited to get one, too, but wanted to wait and do it while Andrea was in town. I thought maybe that would be a fun thing to do together, maybe even have Andrea make some zombie ornaments for me while I watched the hockey game instead. We were going to do this on her last night in Pittsburgh, but Henry and I both got pummeled by some terrible intestine-scouring virus so in lieu of picking out a Christmas tree, we found ourselves unwittingly picking out hallucinatory grave plots instead. I thought initially that it was karma getting back at me for dragging Andrea to the Bayernhof Music Museum, that maybe I ingested some Bavarian parasite by getting too close to a Hummel figurine or wooden edelweiss wall hanging. But that wouldn’t explain why Henry was sick, unless my Saint Rita medallion is cursed and now my house is full of demonic energy. Oh my god, I never should have laughed at that hole in her head.
But anyway (as I slowly remove Saint Rita from my throat), we were going to do it the following weekend, but that’s when Speck died and I would have rather fucked myself with syphillis-coated pine cones than do something joyful like twirling around inside an enclave of Douglas fucking Firs while giving Henry a wallet hemorrhage.
Sometime last week, while I was taking my daily pity bath, I decided enough was enough and that my kid shouldn’t be punished for my prolonged pet bereavement so I told Henry to just take him out to get a tree one night while I was at work. That’s what they did on Thursday and even though it was still wrapped and leaning against the wall when I got home, I knew right away that I hated it.
“IT’S ALL WRONG!” I wailed, and then slumped in the chair where Waterworks part 87 of the day queued up. Henry, who had been very patient with me all week, allowing me to cry and snot all over his chest every day, had officially used up the last smidge of patience in his reserves and yelled, “Then go buy your own tree!” before storming out of the room. Literally, I sat in that chair, coat still on, arms folded across my chest, and cried and cried until my eyeballs stung.
It was all very melodramatic and Lifetime movie for one little (fat) tree. But of course, this was all projection. It wasn’t the tree, had nothing to do with the tree. It was me feeling disoriented and directionless with a huge void in my heart. I think Henry knew this, even though we didn’t speak again that night.
By Friday, the tree had been erected. It was all stout and squat and I hated it even more, nevermind the fact that all my friends were reminding me that I should look at it as a gift from Henry. I mean, I like my rings big, but no way was that bastard fitting on my finger. And the worst part was that while I was at work, Chooch broke my Penguins ornament! THAT FUCKING DICK.
I finally let him decorate on Sunday, mostly because I just didn’t care. Chooch’s decorating style is basically to see how many bulbs he can hang on one bough before it snaps. 3/4 of the tree was bare, while the other 1/4 had enough shit hooked to it to be sincerely mistaken for a skirt in Lady Gaga’s dressing room.
I acted like I didn’t care, even posted on Facebook saying that I didn’t. But an hour later, while Chooch was upstairs pretending to poop but really cutting open my makeup with scissors, my ornamental OCD got the best of me and I reordered the entire scheme, helping the boughs bounce back to their original positions and just generally tried to make it look halfway civilized, not like it was reflecting our household or anything.
Who doesn’t love a random revolver dangling inconspicuously from a branch?
Henry and I sat on the couch after Chooch went to bed, and I couldn’t stop staring at the tree.
“It’s so stupid,” I spat.
“No it’s not. It’s cool,” Henry corrected sharply, because he’s suddenly the Sally Struthers of Sad Christmas trees.
And then I just started to laugh, like really laugh, tears-in-my-eyes belly laughter. It’s the fattest fucking tree I’ve ever seen, and then it just abruptly stops. You would expect it to be like, 15 feet tall. But no. It’s only as tall as Henry, which is like average man height. (Of course that would be his height, because Henry is a very average man.) I’m used to trees tickling the ceiling, not waving to it from six feet below. This tree is so fucking fat that it’s almost hard to pass through the front door without it reaching over and lifting you up by the collar, like some fucking territorial bridge troll demanding a pregnant fairy carcass in exchange for safe passage.
I spent a lot of time alone with the tree today, and I’m starting to love it. Mostly because I’m reminding myself that mysurly disapproval wasn’t about the tree, it was about whose paws are missing from beneath the tree. And I know that Speck would have loved this tree. (And by “loved,” I mean “tormented.”) So I am going to love it too.
However, Henry conveniently lost my homemade star tree-topper that I made 2 years ago from a disposable baking pan and McDonald’s straw, and it just won’t feel right until that god-awful tetanus factory is plugged on top of the tree. (Also, I noticed today that SOMEONE removed my Warped Tour ornament, but don’t worry – I found it on the fireplace mantel.)