The Christmas Tree

One of the things I have always wanted was a great big Christmas tree in my own home. Over the years, as an adult, there has always been something that stood in the way of that happening. Whether it be wild kittens or living in a tiny camper next to my grandparents, I have never really had that Christmas dream.

And, it’s not just about the tree. I literally want to deck the halls of my home every year for the holiday.

I have always wanted to host dinners with family and friends in my Christmas-themed house too. For me, the dream was for us to all sit back, enjoy the lights with a cup of hot cocoa in hand, and simply be in the moment.

Maybe it is my love of cringe-worthy holiday movies, seeing the absurd, almost garish decorations of middle-class American families splashed across the screen. A part of me looks at those flicks as living the dream. I know they are not real. They are manufactured moments in imaginary worlds, but movies are all about escaping from our real lives. It also does not mean one cannot aspire to recreate some of those magical moments back in the real world.

On December 4 last year, I moved into what I hope is my forever home. It was three weeks before Christmas. I was barely putting a dent in my unpacking and laundry list of other important to-do items. There was no way I was going to be able to tackle Christmas decorations.

Fortunately, the former owners did leave behind a tiny white tree. It still had its lights and a few ornaments attached, so I simply plugged in the sad little first-year tree. I even stopped by several stores to find a special ornament to go along with it, something that could represent my year. Everyone was nearly sold out by then. My choices were limited, and I snagged the last Star Wars Yoda ornament — my three-year-old niece has since broken his feet off.

So, I spent my first Christmas sleeping on a makeshift pallet on the floor (I did not yet have a bed) across the living room from a tiny little tree with Yoda hanging from it. I was not quite living the dream, but I had a place to call my own. It was a start, something I could build upon.

This year would be different, I promised myself. I began shopping for the holiday in July. The first order of business: find a Christmas tree. I managed to find a good deal on a 7.5-foot, snow-flecked tree that was perfect. The only downside is that it had to wait in the closet for months.

Little by little, I picked up a decoration here or there. Over the months, I had built up a nice starter collection.

I also accidentally found the perfect ornament to represent my first full year in my new home. It was a wooden house that read “Home Sweet Home” and had a key dangling from it that read “2021.” While I technically moved in during the 2020 year, this was going to be my first real Christmas. Fate had led me to the ornament, so it only felt fitting to put it front and center.

After Thanksgiving dinner, two of my sisters, came over to my house. We shared homemade pizza and a few drinks. We had a laugh at my three-year-old niece as she made up her own song while donning the snowman tree topper on her head. We listened to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack on vinyl — I still need to get at least one Christmas record. After three and a half hours, we had created nothing short of a masterpiece. And, we created some memories that I hope will last a lifetime.

The red, green, and gold of the tree might be an eyesore any other time of the year, but it is the holidays. And, somehow, it just feels right.