|Picture from Allie’s tree|
No matter how Grinchy I get, we will always have a Christmas tree.
I’m one of those people. You know, the ones who get all stressed out around November and would rather hibernate until mid-January than face the holiday season. That’s me. Christmas songs playing over the intercom in over-crowded stores make me want to duck and cover, and commercials for holiday sales make my shoulders scrunch up to my ears. I know for so many people, the holiday season really is the most wonderful time of the year, but the hustle and bustle doesn’t make me glow with holiday cheer. It gives me migraines. It’s just the way it is. I’ve stopped trying to fight it. Pretending I’m feeling all holly and jolly when I’m not is exhausting.
To keep my internal Scrooge at bay, I’ve learned to cut corners on the stressful things and use the holiday season as a chance to slow down and spend some quality time relaxing with my husband, Jeremy. If it’s not necessary, it’s off the holiday to-do list. We do a secret Santa swap with family, to keep the gift shopping to a minimum. We make a good, simple meal together instead of spending all day battling with a turkey that never quite defrosts in time, or trying to get eight different side dishes cooked in only one oven. We play board games and drink wine and talk and laugh and watch our favorite movies. The simpler we keep things, the better. Mostly.
A few years ago, I was adamant that we didn’t need to bother with a Christmas tree. We have two German Shepherds and a cat to contend with, so the opportunity for a tree upset is great. We don’t have kids. We don’t have any sort of burning need to vacuum up pine needles. Our living room is small enough as it is. I decided there was really no reason to go through all the mess and effort, and J said he wouldn’t really miss having one.
I drove past the Boy Scout tree lot every weekend after Thanksgiving, without even thinking about it. I walked by displays of balsams and blue spruce at the hardware store on my way to buy light bulbs, and didn’t feel the slightest twinge of longing for a tree.
I held on tight my minimalist ideals until mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve, and then, all of a sudden, not having a tree felt so horribly wrong. No smell of pine needles! No sparkly lights! No excuse to pull out the decorations we’d been collecting since our very first Christmas together. I desperately missed the back and forth of, “Oh, do you remember the year we got this ornament?” and drinking eggnog together while we strung the lights across the branches.
“We could still get a tree, you know,” Jeremy said, when I told him how upset I was. So, at five PM on Christmas Eve, during the beginnings of a snow storm, we set out to find the last available Christmas tree in the greater Rochester area.
The Boy Scout lots were empty and closed. The local hardware store had been sold out for days. The longer we struck out on finding a tree, the less our chances of finding one got, and it started to look like we were out of luck. But spending that time with my husband, on a mission together, and seeing how much he wanted to get me a Christmas tree made my little Grinch heart grow many many sizes.
|Picture from Allie’s tree|
Finally, after driving around for hours, we found an open tree lot, outside of an Abbott’s Custard shop. They had three trees left. One seemed to be spoken for by the only other couple on the lot. One was so tall it wouldn’t possibly fit on our car or in our living room, and the third made Charlie Brown’s tree look like the one at Rockefeller center. It was more of a twig than a tree, but it was our only option. We didn’t even have to strap it to the roof of the car. It fit on the backseat.
When we got home, pulled the Christmas tree stand out of the attic and tried to put the tree in it, it fell over. The tree was so small, that even when we tightened the stand as far as it would go, it didn’t come anywhere near the trunk. We had to improvise with a bucket filled with rocks to keep it standing, and put it on the coffee table to keep the dogs from knocking it over, but it didn’t matter one bit. We drank our eggnog, while we hung as many ornaments as we could on the tiny, sparse branches, and when we were done, it looked beautiful. Later, as we played Scrabble and relaxed in the glow of our Christmas twig, I vowed never to talk myself out of getting a Christmas tree again.
Jeremy and I plan ahead with our tree buying now, but we always wait to decorate it until Christmas Eve, in honor of our tree-finding mission that year, which is one of my favorite holiday memories.
About the Author:
Allie Larkin lives in Rochester, New York, with her husband, Jeremy, their two German Shepherds, Argo and Stella, and a three-legged cat. She is the cofounder of TheGreenists.com, a site dedicated to helping readers take simple steps toward going green. Stay is her first novel.
About the Book:
Publication Date: June 10, 2010
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Savannah “Van” Leone has loved Peter since the day they met. The problem is, Peter has loved Van’s best friend, Janie, since the moment they met. And now they’re walking down the aisle, with Van standing nearby in a Halloween orange bridesmaid dress, her smile as hollow as a jack-o-lantern. After the wedding, Van drowns her sorrows in Kool Aid-vodka cocktails and reruns of Rin-Tin-Tin, and does what any woman in her situation would do: She buys a German Shepherd over the internet.
The pocket-sized puppy Van is expecting turns out to be a clumsy, hundred-pound beast that only responds to Slovakian. Van is at the end of her rope—until she realizes that this quirky giant may be the only living being who will always be loyal to her, no matter what. And thus begins a friendship that will alter Van’s life in ways she never imagined.
Joe leads Van to Dr. Alex Brandt, a rugged vet with floppy blond hair and winning smile. But just as things are starting to heat up, the newlyweds return from their honeymoon, forcing Van to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to have everything she ever wanted. Warm and witty, poignant and funny, Stay marks the arrival of an irresistible new voice.