My dad had a dream about the family and our Christmas tree. Every year, shortly after Thanksgiving, he would crank up the holiday music and start setting the tree up in hopes that it would come true.
The Christmas tree dream went like this: He’d set up the tree and the lights and then we’d each take turns placing an ornament on the tree until the tree was perfect. This was designed to bring us all together but this did not work for one very simple reason: My father had many good qualities but patience was not one of them.
The first time we tried this we each hung one ornament before he started telling us that we were doing it wrong. Then, because he didn’t give us any instructions on how to do it right he got mad because we were going too slow as we wondered what the right way could possibly be. Within minutes it devolved into shouting and he’d told us to put the ornaments down. We’d then sat across the room sipping our hot chocolate as he finished the job. It was not fun at all.
A year later, the same thing happened.
The year after that we abandoned all pretense of togetherness and just watched him set the tree up. It took less time that way. On the plus side we were all in the same room. This is why, for the first 15 years I lived on my own I celebrated Christmas without a tree.
Tonight, Nina and I started a new holiday tradition. We put on The Best Show on WFMU and put the lights up on our Christmas tree. Then we started putting the ornaments up before realizing that we didn’t have any hooks to hang them with. Unlike when I was younger, no one yelled and we sat on the couch, with The Best Show on WFMU playing and admired our well-lit but otherwise bare tree.