so this is Christmas

Last weekend I got one of my "nesting" impulses.  They started happening a lot after we moved to the suburbs and having a nest large enough to ing in, I wake up inexplicably wanting to paint or shop for curtains on a pretty regular basis.  It felt slightly unfamiliar having been disconnected from all things "home" for weeks and I welcomed the feeling and dreaded it.  It was both comforting and alarming.


The comforting part was that I wanted a Christmas tree.  From the first time I sat in our living room I had the space picked out in my head.  This was going to be the year I would have a "proper tree."  My definition of proper is far from idealistic imaginings involving chopping one down in the countryside or picking the fattest and tallest from a city lot and the pine scent that comes with the season.  In reality, my dream just involved a fake tree taller than me, I'm not fancy.  I have been deathly allergic to trees since I was a kid and after a few years of winding up in the ER around Christmas, my family finally realized real wreaths and trees were the culprit.   But, I never begrudged Christmas, it's the time of the year when everything shitty is magical, right?


Also, since I've lived in very small apartments most of my adult life I never had a Christmas tree over a foot tall, and for much of that time I had no interest in traditional things like that anyway.  But, this year was different.  Over the summer when I realized the winter out here on the beach would be long, cold, and dark, I imagined tricker treaters at Halloween and making some Christmas traditions of our own with great romance and excitement.  Halloween never really happened as Hurricane Sandy landed just a few days before and the Rockaways have been very much a disaster area since.  A few weeks ago my parents were over, and they brought me a bunch of old ornaments that I had either made or were given to me when I was a baby.   Christmas was ON and it was going to be super sentimental and sugar coated, I couldn't wait.


The Sunday after Thanksgiving it was time to get our tree.  I needed Christmas cheer, and damned if I have no idea where we will be this time next year, I wanted a tall artificial pre-lit monstrosity.  No matter what.  So I started calling around and found that our local Walmart still hadn't opened post-storm.  But, there is a mall just across the bridge in a relatively unscathed part of Brooklyn.  So, after much hyping how much we "needed" this and how it would make us feel better, Matt lovingly trekked out with me to take advantage of the post-turkey sales.  He thoughtfully and very cautiously reminded me that seeing as though we might have a lot less space in the future, might I consider a smaller 6ft tree?  No!  I wanted the 7.5 foot tree!  And, then of course I needed a star, so add on another journey to spend a birthday gift card to pick up ornaments, an advent calendar, and more than one star "just in case"… an hour later I was sitting in the back seat of our trusty Corolla, riding bitch to a Christmas tree, buyers remorse started to set in.


I  had done it, I got my big girl Christmas tree.  Even disassembled in it's box, takes up a lot of room.  Where on earth would we store the box, and then the tree after the holidays?  Right now we have a somewhat ridiculous spacious 3 bedroom apartment, but it all feels so temporary.  I had just spent over $100 on yet another thing for our home, that has been feeling less like a home daily for the past month.  It didn't feel very good.  Without digging very deep, I could name family, friends, and a bunch of charities that need that money far more than I should have tossed on a plastic suck on our already high electric bill.  By the time we had fluffed the branches and plugged all the lights in, and gotten some ornaments on it, I resented it. 


I stopped decorating it just about half way through due in part to not having Matt's ornaments and losing interest, it feels more than incomplete.  It offers no comfort, only questions.  So, we have a big apartment in an area cut off by subway service.  We loved it here, but without facilities for laundry, and just about every local resources we need and no longer have…how long can we keep it up knowing that just across the bridge life has all but returned to normal?  With so many kids in the area not having things like homes with heat and walls and basics, why the F do we have a Christmas tree?  This thing that was supposed to bring comfort just leaves me feeling spoiled, decadent, wasteful, and utterly gross.  I never thought that finally getting a holiday tree would feel like this.  Then again, I never thought within a year of moving near a beach, the big one would hit.  So, most days I don't want to even plug it in, if a tree could mock me, ours does.  It brings questions and seems to scream them from the very corner I had picked out for it. 

  • Hope

    I laughed at the few first paragraphs knowing all those nesting feelings myself. I’m now tearing up as I write my comments. All of your points and feelings are valid! You do deserve cheer and light & holiday. You’re also compassionate enough to know that people are suffering around you. My suggestion is to turn your nesting instinct into a sharing one. Have a gathering where others can bask in the glow of normalcy. Have a white elephant event where people can exchange funny cruddy gifts around that tree & laugh a little. You might not know it yet, but your nesting instincts could be used to bring some joy & normalcy to others!