No Christmas Tree This Year
“If I remember right, this is usually a tough time of year for you emotionally. So how’s it going?” asked my friend Wells.
“I am doing better this year. I think I learned this year that a lot of my struggle with the holidays is all the parties. This time of year combines the schedules of business, friends, and family. Everybody wants to see everybody in a compressed time frame. I think what got me down was not wanting to let anyone down. So instead, I got overwhelmed, and then I got down,” I answered.
I love it when a good friend asks a question out of the blue like this. He knows me well enough to ask just the right question. And then the answer just pops out. And the answer gives me clarity.
Social distancing is a blessing.
Everything is canceled because of Covid.
No running around malls looking for presents
No Christmas parties
No organizing the whole family to attend church together
No old friends who travel trying to catch up over lunch in December
No family coming to town for a visit
No conferences to attend
No last-minute business planning or review meetings
And one more “no.”
No Christmas tree!
Kathy and I did our normal trek to Home Depot for our Christmas tree. For whatever reason, we were a couple of weeks late. We got there and there were no trees. Every single one of the stalls for the 8-12’ trees was bare, empty, just air.
The only trees they had were these sad looking, Charlie Brown Christmas trees, in the 6’ and under stalls. There was one other couple besides Kathy and me picking out a tree. I could see by the wife’s expression, she was not happy with what they found either.
I tried to make the best of it by telling Kathy, “Let’s take a look at the trees they have left.”
She took one look and said, “There is nothing here. Take me to Big John’s on Paces Ferry Road.
Off we went.
We got there and all that was left of Big John’s Christmas Tree operation was a stack of wood. It was December 13th, and they were done for the season. Their complete inventory, including their Charlie Brown Christmas trees, were sold.
I could see the disappointment in Kathy’s face. Heartbreaking. Kathy’s annual Christmas tree is her art. And now what, nothing?
“Do you want to go back to Home Depot?” I asked tentatively.
“No. Take me home.”
On the way home, we decided to stop by Home Depot again. We bought a few poinsettias and carefully put them in the car. Then it happened. For the first time in forty-four years, we decided we would not have a Christmas tree.
No loading a tree that is too big for the car.
No mess of needles everywhere. No trying to figure out how to minimize the mess of bringing the tree into our high-rise. No vacuuming the path we took through the building to our apartment. No fighting to get it into the stand. No arguing over whether it is straight or not. No disappointment over the one side of the tree that is missing branches.
We didn’t have any of this. In short, there was no work or disappointment. Therefore, there was no negative emotion. The only negative emotion came at the Home Depot when it was clear, there were no decent trees to be found in Atlanta this year on December 13th.
But there will be Christmas.
We will come together as a family at my oldest daughter’s house. She recommended we watch the Christmas church service on TV together. Then we’ll have our annual Christmas Eve tradition of a big meal followed by the Secret Santa gift exchange. We’ll then go home, get a good night’s sleep (those of us without little children), and get back together to watch the children open their presents on Christmas Day.
This has been one crazy year with a fitting crazy ending. My heart goes out to all who lost loved ones to this terrible virus. Those who are single and alone. Those who did not get to visit with family the way we normally would. Many of us living in fear of getting Covid. And for those of us who contracted Covid and recovered.
In spite of all this, God is still God. And in 2021, we need to begin the recovery, personally and as a nation. We are in this together, tree or no tree.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6