Putting up a tree alone can be an emotional experience


 It was not fun going to pick out a Christmas tree alone.

The experience brought back memories of when I was a little girl, and picking out a tree was the highlight of my holiday.

My parents would pack me and my four siblings into an old blue van. We’d pick up our parish priest Fr. Steward Lindsay at St. Mary’s in Vermilion, Ohio along the way and head out to a farm where you could cut your own tree. If we were lucky, it would be snowing, and it would make finding the perfect tree even more difficult.

We’d walk around as a family with Fr. Stew in tow. Our goal as kids was to find the biggest tree possible. Once my dad cut the tree, he’d lay it down in the back seat in the back of van. The rest of us would climb into the van and off we’d go – singing Christmas carols all the way home – as the back door of the van was held closed with a bungee cord.

Over 35 years later, I find myself wandering around a garden center trying to find the biggest tree I can in my price range. I don’t care that the tree is a blue spruce, scotch pine or fraser fir. I don’t know the difference. I just want to make an impact with it in my living room.

The young boy working at the garden center is helpful, and I’m sure has no idea the emotions I’m dealing with. I feel like I’m interrupting his texting so I tell him I don’t need any help as I aimlessly look at every tree in the lot. It’s snowing, and I don’t have a hat, but it’s o.k. It reminds me that I can withstand just about anything.

I find a 6-to-7 foot tree that is $50. I have a $5 off coupon, and that would still leave me enough to give the teenage boy a good tip. The boy puts the tree on a shaker to get rid of the dead pine needles. He gives the trunk a fresh cut, and cuts a few branches off the bottom. He puts a net around it, and packs it into the back of my Jeep Wrangler.

With the back door hood still open, and a tree hanging out of my car, I drive home in silence to a house with no lights on. As I pull into my driveway, and open the garage door, I realize I have two options. Either sit in my Jeep and cry, or get  out, turn some lights on, and pull the tree into my house.

My mom calls to see how I am. I tell her what I’m doing, and she asks who is helping me. “No one,” I tell her. “You are your mother’s daughter,” she says.

That gives me all the motivation I need to get the tree into the stand, straighten it out, put lights on it, and all of my nostalgic ornaments which I have saved over the years. Just like that, my living room looks alive. The spirit of Christmas has finally filled my house.

In life, we sometimes have two choices. Cry or move on. When you cry, you become depressed and get nothing done. When you move on, you give yourself hope. You remind yourself that you alone are in control of your mood. 

So make the most of it. Tuck the memories away, and create new ones even when it’s difficult. You will find that you are stronger than you realize.

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