I used to love Christmas, with all its twinkly lights, wonderful-smelling trees, and presents. However, once my mom’s health began declining (brought on by a brain aneurysm in 2004 which almost killed her), my attitude towards Christmas changed dramatically. Though her cognitive abilities are markedly improved now, she doesn’t care about her personal appearance, nor does she get excited about opening up gifts which I wrap carefully for her.
Another thing which happens every year, and has occurred for the past several years, is that people leave town, and I find myself alone on Christmas Day. I remember spending the Christmas of 2011 and 2012 moping about the fact that I was alone, but then in 2013, I sort of gave up and decided to use Christmas Day as more of a personal day, to catch up on projects and cleaning, or to spend part of the day with friends who might be in town during that time. This year, I will spend the early afternoon sitting in a movie theater by myself and watching “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, and I think that is absolutely perfect.
Another Christmas tradition which I had abandoned in 2012 was getting a tree. From 1997 through 2010, I would get a 7-1/2 foot Noble Fir for the living room and decorate it along with the rest of the house. In 2011, I still bought a tree, but I put it in a different room because my cats were so rambunctious that I was concerned that they would destroy it. Then we moved in 2012, and I didn’t even make an effort to buy and decorate a tree. We had no tree in 2013 or 2014 either, and to make sure that I didn’t go hog-wild with other decorations, I got rid of a bunch of lights and other decorations at a garage sale I had earlier this year.
This year, I was completely torn. I put wreaths up on the front door and the back door, but didn’t put any lights up on our patio. Almost daily, I would toy with the idea of running to a tree lot and buying a tree. But here’s the thing: it’s not exactly fun to think about picking out a tree by yourself, loading it up onto the roof of your car, lugging it up a flight of stairs to your house, pulling out all the lights and other decorations from the garage, and decorating the entire damned thing yourself. The cat factor also really bothered me, because I didn’t exactly relish the thought of coming home to broken ornaments or chewed up light cords. I thought that if I could test the cats’ behavior with a smaller tree, that I might buy a tree, but that it wouldn’t happen until next year.
Then I found myself in a Rite Aid on December 20th, and saw a 4 foot artificial Noble Fir for sale for $10. That was my chance to finally get a tree. Ten bucks was cheap enough for me to take the plunge without feeling like I had made a huge commitment. I purchased the tree, and as soon as I got home, I decorated it. My cats looked at it with great curiosity, but they didn’t bat at the ornaments or chew at the tree (well, Shima chewed a bit on the tree, but I’m watching her!). I have enjoyed the tree so immensely that I have decided to get a 7-1/2 foot Noble Fir next year, and I will also put up the artificial 4 foot tree. I am even considering putting lights out on the patio next year.
In many respects, Christmas is just another day for me, but it doesn’t mean that I have to avoid enjoying the decorations which the holiday brings. My Christmas gift to myself is a nice little movie date which I am sure I will enjoy as well.
Merry Christmas everyone!