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I haven't had a Christmas tree in years.

The Christmas tree I remember from my childhood went from this enormous, perfectly-decorated, gorgeous thing with presents galore beneath it to pain-in-the-ass chore within a few years (probably right around the time we were figuring out that there is no such thing as Santa Claus). I think when I was in high school my parents stopped doing the tree. My dad brought home a real one (for the smell, which in later years we achieved by burning a very large, 3-wick pine-scented candle) to my whatever-I-was-activisting-about horror one year. Since college my mom has been using her bead-crafting baubles to hang on the Norfolk pine, which is something I like. None of these old cardboard boxes full of delicate and timeless ornaments from my dad's childhood that, if broken, cause angst. Just little colorful glass drops on a tree left behind from a family friend's move to another state.

My roommate Julie went to Ohio to visit family for Thanksgiving. Before she left, we'd discussed getting a tree. It is something that means so much to her, that she enjoys so much, that I began to get a bit excited about. But before she went to Ohio, she told me she may not be coming back. Her uncle had passed away and was possibly leaving her a house and she had an unsolicited but sweet-deal job interview. If those things worked out, she would be leaving NC. Suddenly putting up a tree the day after Thanksgiving (as opposed to December 1) was not something I felt like arguing about. Instead, I felt like crying. What if she wasn't coming back? My work-life would turn to hell within 20 seconds. My personal life (i.e. the one outside of work) would go to hell as well; she knows how to turn "I want to die I am so tired" to "hey, let's do something fun, yay!" The week she was gone was excruciatingly sad.

So, she came back from Ohio, hadn't gone to the interview, uncle's will voided (default everything goes to his brother, Julie's dad), and glad to be "home" in NC. I was ready to get a Christmas tree that day, but we waited a bit.

And waited.

And waited.

Pretty soon, I was the one asking almost daily, "when are we going to get the Christmas tree?" I felt like an impatient child. I found myself buying (wtf) Christmas presents.

So on Tuesday, which felt like the coldest night of the year, Julie comes home and we drive to Home Depot. We pick out a tree very quickly and we buy it and she shows me how to strap it onto a car. Now, keep in mind, if I were to bring home a Christmas tree, I would have put it in my back seat. Julie showed me how to string a tree to your roof-- it was so much fun and we laughed so hard each time she threw the ball of string to me and I dropped it. Then we went and got frozen yogurt (peppermint flavored) and then came home and put up the tree, decorating it with three different colors of lights (blue and white were hers-- I told her "I thought this was supposed to be a Christian tree!", and pinkish/magenta were mine) and ornaments that she had (plasticky, non breakable ones for the bottom layers/cats, and glass and delicate-r ones for the top), and then she told me to get out my ornaments. So I took down from my window the things I had hanging and put them on the tree. My little UFO catcher Rilakkuma, Memetchi (which Saachan won for me in Namba), bunny fairies and glass thingies and moon-shapes.

When we come home now, we have this gorgeous lit-up thing that smells great and makes us smile. We have a fireplace that works and good company and warm cats that don't get along.

I feel like a lot has gone wrong in my life this year, but rooming with Julie is by far the best choice made. And I think I may actually like Christmas.
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December 2012

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