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.

D- NOW WE CAN DECORATE THE TREE!!!!!!

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. ♥

Hope.

One of my best friends moved to California. I was heartsick to see her go, but so excited for what her future held. She was crafty and made beautiful things and had an eye for style and color that you don’t see every day. I met her when I was working as a server, and her father was one of my most difficult customers.

This pretty apple, fell VERY far from the tree.

Her pops and I came to a sort of understanding over the years, but one sight of her lovely face and I knew that she would never allow the evening to be anything but magical….

because she’s a second sunshine in the universe, and everywhere she goes is a little lot brighter. Her second baby landed her on high risk bedrest, and with a preemie sweetpea, ultimately. I’m one of the lucky folks who can call her a close friend and got to catch up with her on the phone during her long stay on bedrest.

Anything she touches, thrives… and her sweet baby was no exception. Theirs was a charmed life full of love and hard work. It was too good to be jealous of. It was something to be celebrated because we all knew they worked so hard at it. They were living proof that happily ever after, exists.

I hated to see them move away, but it made sense to be close to so many more customers, and they were helping out family.

We snuck in late night phone calls over giggles, work and wine. It was SO  exciting to see her dreams come to life, even if it was from a distance.

My phone rang early one morning in August and I saw it was a missed call from her. Morning calls were not the norm and I called her back

Her voice was different. She was barely not sobbing.

H-He drowned. My baby is gone.

J- WHAT?

Time stands still when I think of that moment because it did then too. It’s taken months to write anything in regards to him or her or the millions of dreams that died with him that day. She was calling me from the ICU and the prognosis was dire. He would never be the Sweetpea again, IF he survived.

He did not survive. It’s taken me two more months to type that sentence. She holds a place in my heart that my sisters do, and I can’t fix this. This is one of those hurts that never heals. It grows from a hurt into a part of who you are. You can’t walk around bleeding forever and you have to celebrate the time they don’t get.

You have to move on and find joy, or you waste the life you’ve been given. I just never wanted anything like this to happen to anyone, least of all her.

Her divorce will be final soon. Her husband went off the deep end and she’s been carrying their son and this grief, in her own hands. Those same strong hands that carried her babies and made a million beautiful things, are rebuilding a beautiful new life for them.

I’m so proud to know her, call her my friend and have her heartbroken wisdom on the end of the phone when I need to hear her laugh again.

Some people walk through fire and get burned. Jessica is that fire. Please help her keep her flame burning bright this holiday season.

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