We used to put up lights around the ceilings of the living and dining rooms, over the fireplace. The trees were seven feet tall, and always were much prettier once we got them up and decorated than when we bought them. One year I brought home a blue spruce and Rosalie puffed up like a balloon. She had a severe allergic reaction to it and we had to undress it and haul it away, replaced by a northern pine. It was always such a pain to untangle the light strings, find that one damn burned out bulb that kept the rest of the bulbs unlit. Then the garland and tinsel and many colored-balls and school-made ornaments from one child or another, placing under the tree all the packages to one another and our children. Finally we could sit back and admire our accomplishment. But then Christmas passed and we had to reverse the process, dismantle the tree and rewrap the light strings and garland, put back in boxes all the balls and ornaments, haul the now tinder-dry tree to the street for pickup with needles shedding all over the house like cat dander. And every year the trees grew smaller.
We continued with live trees after we got to Arizona. And I strung lights outside along the front eaves, wrapping strings around the trunks of the two pineapple palms. That lasted only three or four years until we both decided that outside decorations were foolish and unnecessary.
Instead, we bought a small, artificial fiber-optic tree from Ace Hardware which we now have on a table in front of the mirrored wall, with several lighted Christmas houses at the base, two lighted balls outside, one hanging from the front door light, one hanging from the light near the garage door, and a fiber-optic snowman on the stereo. That’s it. Simple. We’re now at that stage in our lives where we have almost no presents under the tree. Rosalie and I need no more “stuff” in our lives, so we told the kids never to give us anything that wasn’t consumable—a box of candy or a bottle of Scotch or a gift card to Red Lobster. Presents to our kids are now money-filled envelopes. Simple. No more Black Fridays or Cyber Mondays, no more encounters with hectic crowds at the mall, no more wishing away the season only to get to a New Year, when the three hundred and fifty-nine days to the next Christmas will seem more like a hundred. I think we now need to put Christ back into Christmas. And so should most of the rest of the world.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.