I don’t like perfunctory gifts. Those “I pulled her name this year and she likes perfume” gifts.


I like the kind of gifts that blow people away and make their dreams come true.

Those deep-seated wishes you don’t think anyone knows about. Yeah, I want to know about those, because I will go to the ends of the earth to make them happen. 

I personally don’t like opening presents. At all. My best friends know not to wrap them. I appreciate everything and it’s not a concern that I won’t love whatever anyone gives me… it’s the awkward discomfort of it all.

When I went to counseling after I got divorced, the one horrifying thing my therapist said was that one of my “love languages” was receiving gifts. My mouth fell open and I argued vehemently to the contrary.

Then my lover bought me a parting gift. He handed me a box and told me to open it. 

Inside was a necklace and inscribed in tiny letters was the phrase: “I shimmered…whatever affection you remember, remember this.”

I cried big, alligator tears. Jeanine Payer is my favorite jewelry/designer/weakness in the whole world and he’d proven my counselors point. It wasn’t that I wanted random gifts. I wanted intention, with a bow. 

I hate opening presents so much that I’m overjoyed to be single in the time of gifting. 

O V E R J O Y E D.

However… I’ve been a busy little Miss Claus and have found/made a few things that I am SO EXCITED to give. 

What are you excited about this holiday season?

The Tree

I almost called my ex husband yesterday to apologize for what an asshole I used to be about the Christmas tree. I really should. I still might. 

Once upon a time, I insisted on the local tree farm. They have a hay ride, hot cocoa and candy canes. It’s magical and at $10 a foot, it should be. I made my husband walk for hours while keeping on a happy face and schlepping our two small children around in ankle deep snow.

We always had a perfect tree… but my god it was a lot of work. He got frustrated a few times, but always walked around and around that same acre of trees until I found the one I wanted most. Frostbite and financial hardship, be damned.

My how times have changed, hence the overdue apology. 

I woke up yesterday facing the promise I’d made to the Dumpling. She wanted a tree and I’d agreed to it. Wanting and being ready for it are two completely different things, and I explained it to her, but she still insisted. I don’t break promises, so we got in the car and went to my new favorite tree farm. 

Home Depot. 

We walked past a reluctant teenaged girl in the outdoor farm & garden booth. She looked away, as if to beg me not to ask her for help. Nobody else seemed to be working, so I used the flashlight on my phone and led the Dumpling around the random booths of our four options. Douglas, Fraser, Grand or Noble. 

Noble it is. 

She wanted the one that was still wrapped, because it’s the tallest. I hesitated for a second over buying a tree without seeing it unwrapped, then grabbed it by the trunk and dragged it to the checkstand. That same reluctant girl came out and smiled at us gratefully, rang up the tree and we were on our way with our $50 surprise. 

I drive a Subaru, so her desire for the tallest tree was perhaps not the wisest thing for me to cave on. I managed to drag it through the back and up to the dash of the car, resting it on the office chair I’d bought and crammed into the front seat to fit the much smaller tree I’d imagined. 

Ok I maybe miss having a husband for this kind of shit. While I CAN do it, I sure don’t always do it gracefully.

The drive home was entertaining, to say the least. The chair kept shifting me into neutral and the tree kept shutting the stereo on and off. I find hilarity in miserable situations, so I laughed and held the chair while the tree played DJ. Good lord my life is entertaining. 

We pulled into the driveway and the Dumpling exclaimed.


J- Well hang on. I have to go find the tree stand in the garage, we have to unwrap it and let it drink some water and warm up before I can put the lights on. I need to make dinner too. What do you want?

D- I want to decorate the tree. 

FML. Headlamp. Garage. Tree Stand. 

Which is when I look at the diagonal base of the tree and realize I didn’t get them to cut it. Which means my lucky ass gets to do it. 

Now I’ve made this mistake in the past and I know how long it takes to use the dull hand saw I own, so I went in search of the sawzall. Found it, put the blade in and yeeeeeehaw… it wasn’t bad and my tree might survive until Christmas.

I got it solidly screwed into the stand, (hopefully) and drug it into the house. Water, and snip, snip, snip… we unveiled our surprise tree.

This is the moment my ex husband should get to see. He’d die laughing. My tree has several areas of visible trunk and more than a few mangled, broken branches. It is definitely not a Crowell’s Land of Christmas, tree. 

What it is, is perfect. A beautiful representation of the faith I’ve learned to have that no matter what, everything works out exactly as it’s supposed to. It smells great and it’s holding a hundred of my greatest treasures and most sentimental keepsakes. 

Nobody had to cry to pick out the tree this year, and I realize that doesn’t seem like a big victory but in the past I couldn’t always say that.

As a single mom, I have to celebrate the fact that I managed to get that fucking tree in the stand again. I don’t even care that it’s crooked. 

There’s a tree, and that’s all that matters. ♥