After a long hiatus, I finally broke down and did something I wasn’t sure I’d ever do again, which was to buy a Christmas tree and decorate it in time for the solstice. As in past years, I did it by myself, driving into a vacant lot then strolling between rows of tightly-packed trees searching for the perfect specimen. When I lived in San Francisco I had a bent for very large Noble firs nearly twice my size and with ample space between each sturdy branch, enough to allow the ornaments to display their grandeur—the sparkling pickle, the Santa head, the sombrero-wearing tomato, the iridescent glass ball, the Star of David holographic glasses—all gifts from my annual holiday party guests.

This year, succumbing to a slight longing in my heart for what in my mind is more of a solstice tree, its lights and shiny baubles reminding me of longer days coming, I went in search of the perfect little Charlie Brown conifer. I found it propped sideways against a picnic table, its trunk stuck in the snow. “How much for this one?” I asked a man with rosy cheeks whose answer, “Ten bucks,” was wrapped in a puff of cold air. I slipped him the bill, wished him well then grabbed the tree with one hand and laid it into the back of the car.

Once home, I dusted off a solitary box of Christmas tree trimmings, hanging the shiniest ornaments on the fingers of a thin tree no higher than my shoulders. I hope Calvin likes it, I thought, knowing how much he is drawn to light. Then I paused remembering why I'd stopped decorating trees in the first place, that a lonely hollow has carved itself into my heart knowing my boy will likely never help me decorate a tree, will never understand any of the holidays of the season. We will never make gingerbread cookies together, cut snowflakes out of sheets of white paper, make a snowman or push cloves into an orange. He won’t sing in a holiday concert or carol from door to door. He won’t write a poem about what the holidays mean to him or contemplate the significance of it all.

And, so, the essence of the holiday season remains for us: gatherings with friends over glasses of wine and spirits, plates filled with comfort food, rolling fires and laughter, celebrating the simple pleasures of life and the promise of longer days.


  1. Awwwww..... I know Christy.. I know.. and I love that lil tree and you...Calvin and Michael. I am blessed to be a part of your life.


  2. Crazy analogy ahead: Calvin is your Charlie Brown tree. The tree doesn't DO (just as Clavin may not do the things you area of, the cookies etc), but all the care you take with the tree and with Clavin make image them so special. The baubles are your love and attention, your care, your posts--everything you do for and with him. And then he stands and shines and makes your life more beautiful, difficult though it be.