It has been a number of years now, post-divorce/kids all flown, that I’ve been trekking in solitude to a tree farm to cut an evergreen in time for Christmas. This week, the farmer greeted me skeptically, confused for a moment when I asked for a saw, and began repeating offers of help: “I’ll be right here”…”there’s a worker up in the back field”…”let me know if you need anything”. One thing he didn’t know is that my favorite evergreen has always been the Norway Spruce, long-lasting and sturdy with a dancing lady silhouette and plenty of space between the branches for ornaments and nesting birds. The side perks are their narrow, easy-to-cut trunks and the fact that the 8-foot beauty in my living room right now was light enough for me to carry one-handed and slide into the seats-down passenger side of my Honda Fit for the ride home. The other thing he didn’t know is how life has changed and rearranged the woman I am, the things that matter to me. The farmer gave me a nod when I returned the saw. The season beckoned me closer with the scent of Christmases past and a bit of sap on my hands.
This is my tradition now. I’m aware that it exists outside what’s “expected” and, for me, that makes it all the more festive and delightful. On the very day in question, the CoStar astrology app queried, “What if you threw out the rulebook entirely and started over?” And THAT made me laugh out loud! In what seems to be a previous lifetime, I was picky and particular about choosing a tree, husband and kids, toddlers to teens, all finally bowing to my ultimate decision. Back home, the living room was filled with family, but I was still the tinsel tyrant “doing it all myself” because it wouldn’t be “right” otherwise, a default mode passed down by my father who had legit RULES about decorating a Christmas tree. Okay, fine, one year I allowed all of the green balls to stay in the congested spot at the two-year-old’s eye level, but it was HARD. These days, I don’t know precisely what had me wrapped up in that bossy solitude, that old, crumbling playbook, aside from the tangled strands of surface appearances and a perfectionist’s pain. I’m sure I could have let all that separation and suffering go sooner, but we live and learn, don’t we? Let it gooooo! We live and learn.
This Susan, this woman writing you a love letter at Winter’s edge, chose a misfit tree with a trunk so narrow the tree stand bolts aren’t long enough to reach it so it stands a little lopsided. I asked permission, from Mother Nature and all of her trees, in the field, knelt on the cold earth in reverence and later welcomed her home, whispering, “thank you”. And I will be all alone festooning her with lights and glass balls, full of whimsy and silliness instead of concerns of symmetry and style. I won’t give a rat’s ass, not a single fuck (sweetly, you know), about what anyone thinks of my tree, or me; and I’ll revel in the company of a smidge of nature’s bounty brought indoors to remind me, truly, what this whole thing is all about.
It’s about making it through in dark times. It’s about generosity and kindness. It’s about contemplation and growth. It’s about Grace descending when it’s least expected. It’s about a simple choice, over and over, to be of peace. To love. To wait. To believe.
Earlier today I reposted a Mark Hyman meme: Did you know that your stem cells are wired to your brain and help you repair and regenerate? But they only turn on and make new brain cells when you relax. And I know for a fact that you’ve heard me rephrase the yogi tea bag tag from decades ago that implores, “the greatest thing you can do in life, with much courage, is to relax”.
So, no I don’t have cameras in your house, but, baby, please, can you relax? What if you threw out the rulebook entirely and started over? It’s probably time to let it go. I’m pretty sure this is my forever, evergreen, never fading live and learn lesson…over and over again…let it be. Might you join me this Wintertide, in blessed Yule, by receiving the Grace of our Lady? I’ll be honored by your company, your good will, focused care and the starshine spell of hallowed, holy peace upon the earth. So sit. Turn to your tree or wreath or candle or to the northern horizon and whisper with me.
And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on meShinin’ until tomorrow, let it be I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me Speaking words of wisdom, let it be