Guys, it’s the day after Thanksgiving! And that means it’s officially acceptable to play Johnny Mathis while decorating your Christmas tree. I have now given you permission. Just in case you were wondering….
Actually, this year I broke my own rule about waiting until the day after Thanksgiving to start celebrating Christmas. I did it one week early. See, I had this gut feeling Michigan was going to fall apart on the road in Iowa City last weekend, so I decided to soften the blow a bit by putting up my tree during the game. I wanted to give myself something to be happy about even if the Wolverines were going to break my heart 16 different ways. My feeling wasn’t based on some unfounded fear that we’d fall apart because we have so many times this season. It was a feeling I couldn’t shake, it came from a really real place, and I wanted to be prepared.
I was going to put up my white tree, but when I pulled it out of the box I noticed it had become discolored over the last year. Part of me wanted to haul it out to my balcony, get out the white spray paint and cover the ugly with perfect white paint. That’s the part of me that can’t let go — the part of me that wants to fix EVERYTHING. Another side came out as I looked at the branches strewn all over the floor: a part of me that said, “Anika, the tree was $19 at Rite Aid nine years ago. You’re more likely to ruin something that cost you three times that much while you’re trying to fix the unfixable. Toss the stupid tree. Let go of the past. Let go of your expectations.”
I have to admit there was a war raging inside me while the battle raged on the football field. Michigan was falling apart on all fronts, and I was looking at the hopeless wreckage of my cheap tree too paralyzed to make a decision about the situation.
I WANTED THE WHITE TREE TO JUST WORK — I WANTED IT TO LOOK HOW IT DID LAST YEAR. But it wasn’t going to. It couldn’t. It was over.
As I stared at the mess, I was vacillating between two possible solutions: one involved buying a new white tree and making things look the way I wanted and the other was to settle for my green back up tree. (Yes, I own a back up tree because I’m broken like that.)
What’s wrong with the green tree, you ask? Well, it doesn’t exactly match my rug. I bought it about five years ago when my living room had a very different aesthetic, and it just wasn’t going to look the way I wanted it to look. My tree has changed with my changing taste and decor over the years, and the green just wasn’t what I wanted.
Here’s a look at Christmases and Dogs Past (literally):
The final tree is what I wanted this year, but it wasn’t going to happen unless I got in my car and spent money on a replacement tree. I was close to doing it. Truly. I mean, I CAN afford a new tree, but the truth is: storing two trees in a tiny space has been seriously taxing the Tetris skills I honed as an adolescent, and I’d rather put the money in savings than spend it on something I don’t absolutely need.
This meant accepting the green tree. So I did it. Sort of.
Even though I made the mature, rational decision it took me a long time to be OK with it. I was fighting the juxtaposition of the chartreuse-y rug with the dark green tree. I went as far as putting the lights on the tree, but I didn’t bother with the bulbs for another two days. I even left the wreckage of the white tree all over my floor for the rest of the weekend. I was basically dwelling in denial and holiday decorating purgatory. So much for a sparkly tree cheering me up when Michigan lost, right? (They did lose, by the way. Spectacularly.)
Finally Monday morning I woke up at 4 am, chucked the brown and white mess down my trash shoot, put the Cynthia Rowley reindeer sweater back on my bottle of Absolut, and moved on with my life.
Now I have a green tree with a chartreuse rug, and it’s mostly not terrible.
It is what is — and looking at it might get me through whatever happens against Ohio State tomorrow — only I don’t have a gut feeling about tomorrow. The pieces could all come together like they did against Notre Dame, and we could experience a miracle. Or not.
Either way, I’m going golfing in the rain today because that’s what I do now. I play nine holes for Noah, and I try to embrace a tree that doesn’t look quite right with my rug because it makes more sense in the world of finances and closet geometry.
I accept what is. I’m almost grateful for what is. Because it’s all there is. It doesn’t mean I can’t make it a little prettier, though.
Maybe I will do something about the tree skirt situation after golf….