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. ♥

Terrible Holiday Letter

My goodness, this has been a hell of a lot harder than I thought it would be. I’m a big fan of checking in with myself and being honest about my struggle, because life is hard for everyone and I know plenty of people who are not comfortable sharing difficult feelings. 

I volunteer as tribute. lol….I’ve actually sent something out like this before, so my family wouldn’t be shocked in the slightest. 🙂

This is a heartbreaker podcast, but you should stop what you’re doing and listen.

Dear Friends and family, happy holidays!

It’s been a busy year in our household! Little Red graduated and moved into her own place. She’s running a tight ship and has threatened her boyfriend into putting the seat down and bringing home flowers, regularly. I’m so relieved she didn’t inherit the doormat gene. She’s a gorgeous hammer, and I have no doubt that she will do and have anything she wants. Heaven help the man who stands in her way. I’ve realized just how many dishes she actually washed, and desperately hope she moves back home. 

The Dumpling has stopped having screaming temper tantrums, no longer runs to the calming tent and has stopped shouting at the other children. It only took 8000 conversations and an extensive loss of popsicle privileges. Single parenthood from birth has proven to be the most exciting adventure I never imagined. We are a team and I treasure even the most trying moments, of which there are many. It’s a darn good thing she’s so cute and thoughtful. She’s a whole lot of heaven and a smidgen of hell… just like her mama.

Speaking of yours truly, it’s been a fantastic year. Ish. My garden officially died this year, as in: never-happening-again, died. $900 in water for a handful of potatoes, a couple tomatoes and a shitload of beets and gourds. It provided ample exercise, which helped carve 60 pounds off of me, prompting some terrible dates and a freshly broken heart. Though the garden changed, my love for unavailable men, has not. The longer I’m single, the more inclined I am to believe that it’s intentional and more a form of self preservation than masochism.  My professional life has never been better and it’s hard for me to be anything but happy when I consider all the amazing parts that make up my life. I’m a very lucky lady with an amazing bunch of friends and family. I love you, one and all.

xoxo Jenni & the girls. (my boy still isn’t speaking to me.)

Uck. Fun.  

My Grandpa used to send out an offensive holiday letter. It wasn’t funny and rude, he just only included his second round of kids. My mother’s blood would boil and so I began making it a tradition of reading it aloud with a twist. We miss those shitty, inconsiderate letters. 

When I got divorced, I sent one out that was awkwardly honest and everyone loved it. One of my sisters still talks about it. I think we all want to show the world (and more importantly, our loved ones) the rosy side of our lives. We don’t want to “burden” anyone with the sad stuff, even though Christmas really is the saddest time of year for MANY people. Myself included. When you share the real stuff, it lets someone know they are not alone in not giving a fuck about singing carols and hanging up lights. They’re just trying to make it through to January, too.

Life isn’t perfect, but it’s always worth it and changing. Even the worst times don’t last forever.