I've spent some time thinking lately about how life keeps changing, whether we like it or not. The kids don't need me as much anymore unless it involves driving, food or cash. There are things that keep it so much the same. A mortgage, beach days, favorite restaurants, edible meals on the dinner table, driving ten times around the island for the kids' activities....and then there are holiday traditions.
I mentioned to the kids last weekend we would get our tree, as we always do, and decorate it. "I'm working"...or "I might go to so-and-so's-house" or "Can't we do it another time?" is what came back.
I thought hard about it, I swear, I did. I tried mustering up the energy and the plan to take care of this myself, but I dreaded driving to one of our lots here in town (possibly by myself) and spending $15 on a tree that would dry out in a day and smell remotely like pine for just the first hour. I dreaded the alternative of spending $80 on one that might last three weeks, lose it's stuff on the floor RIGHT before Christmas, cover the tops of presents with needles and quite possibly could end up on it's side in the middle of the night due to my lack in keeping it stable in its stand.
Also, there was NO WAY I was going to drive an hour away to chop down a tree with a dull saw and drag it through the dirt (possibly by myself) and driving it home on top of my small car, risking it flinging off on the highway because the 14 year old kid who strapped it on wasn't savvy with his knots. (and yes, this is said from experience).
I wasn't looking forward to untangling the lights, or taking them off at the end of the month, along with 300,000 dried pine needles. I wasn't looking forward to the cats leaving throw up on the window sill from drinking pine needle water from the water trough, while we were sleeping.
Getting rid of the thing in the end would also be a pain, with a brittle needle trail leading through the living room, down our carpeted stairs and out the front door. I would also have to keep in mind the "dead tree pickup day" and get it to the sidewalk, sometime at the end of January. IF I forgot, it would have to stay by the side of the house until I could discreetly cut it up and put it in a trash bag to illegally put out on the sidewalk for a regular trash day.
So, instead of going alone to get a tree this weekend, tie it to my roof, lug it up the big flight of stairs and struggle with doing all the tree stuff, I got online with Home Depot. While drinking a very large glass of Cabernet, I purchased a beautiful pre-lit artificial tree (and a pine scented Yankee Candle from Amazon.com).
It came four days later. I didn't even drive down the highway the 25 minutes to pick it up. I waited, comfortably in my home for it. Yesterday I unwrapped it, pieced it together and plugged the damn thing in.
And there was peace.
Do I feel a little guilty? A little. Not too much.
Do I feel like I failed as a mum because I couldn't handle another live tree and all that comes with it for the 17th year? A little. But not really. No. I don't.
The beauty isn't in the artificial presentation of it, and honestly, if you don't look too closely, it looks real(ish). The lights that were already on it are spaced evenly, they all work, and there is a manual that comes with the thing if something were to break.
The beauty is in the simplicity, the lack of dread, the "making it easier" as the kids are spreading their wings and having less time to focus on the things that were all that mattered before.
I think it does still matter to them, I just think that THE WAY it happens, is less important to than what has happened, the end result. This was proven that night the tree was "built" and plugged in...in just a matter of minutes...when we sat around on the couch together and drank cocoa with marshmallows and watched "Christmas with the Kranks" on Netflix by our "tree".
Although, after I presented this big beautiful un-messy no-stress-for-Mom-tree in our tiny living room, my daughter looked at our new artificial pre-lit tree from Home Depot, and bluntly stated, "Well, you just killed Christmas."