We’ve been given another gift of generosity. This time, a free live Christmas tree! I couldn’t believe it when we got the voucher, it seemed too good to be true. We’d just purchased an artificial tree on Black Friday and I’d been meaning to set it up, but time (and my reluctance to love it) kept me from opening the box. Good thing, because we got to return it after we used our voucher.
On Saturday morning we went down to the farm where they were giving the trees away. I figured it would be some slummy setup with the poor-people-trees in a shabby corner and the others spread about the farm. I wasn’t going to complain either way. How could I? A free tree. A live tree. A guarantee that we’d have help strapping the thing to the roof of our vehicle.
What really occurred nearly brought me to tears. We were greeted by the farm workers as though we were family. The girls giggled with Santa Claus and told him what they want for Christmas (Dinosaur Train toys and Hungry Hungry Hippos) while a woman took my voucher and showed me the stations I was supposed to visit.
At the first station we indulged in cookies, brownies, cider, and candy canes. At the next station I was given three bags of ornaments (typical gift bag sized bags, there were about 40 ornaments total). The next station had specialized ornaments, decorations, and household items (candy dishes, candle holders) that had been donated and were free for the taking (I choose two packages of purple and gold ribbons to tie on our tree). The last stations were for getting a tree stand, and choosing a tree.
We all agreed on a chubby tree that Terra wanted. It stands about five feet so we were able to fit it into the back of the van easily. I got it into the house by myself and got the stand set up. I even found my husband’s saw and cut the branches from the bottom to make enough room for the trunk to fit securely in the stand. I could not, however, jam the trunk into the base of the stand and screw it in without assistance, so I called a friend.
Tonight the girls and I decorated the tree. It looks amazing to me. The first tree of our new beginning. I am still holding back my tears though. This is so difficult. Being without him…trying to stay strong. Last year he decorated the place so beautifully. There were lights around our entire living room and our tree looked amazing. He bragged that we had the best decorations in the condo association, and I (more humbly) agreed.
The girls think the tree is perfect. They do not see it as small and don’t know how it compares to our previous trees. They do not notice the personalized ornaments missing. They do not know that the afghan I’m using as a tree skirt was a free gift from someone who makes them and donates them to the domestic violence center. They do not know that every time I get a whiff of the needles I am crying inside because my wedding anniversary is on Winter Solstice. They do not know how much it’s killing me to stay merry, to teach them how to appreciate everything while I’m still mourning.
It’s good that they do not know. I want them to enjoy the tree. I want them to enjoy their Christmas. I want so badly for them to just be happy children, and not let any of this other stuff bring them down. I am very happy for our Christmas tree. It’s going to force me to cope with these painful memories, compel me to address these unhealed wounds. But it’s a beautiful tree, and I am very grateful indeed.