Christmas – not our first together, but our first in your new apartment, where I spent weekends, and you had room for a full-size tree. Prepared to buy a new one, you donated your three-foot, plastic-needled impostor. You suggested we go to Home Depot and invest in the faux tree we’d have together for years to come.
“That’s what you want, right?” you asked. “Didn’t you say you don’t believe in cutting live trees?”
At least you were right about that. I hated Christmas tree farms and pop-up, roadside tree outlets, where a family could find the ideal tree to serve its new purpose and eventually be discarded.
In Home Depot’s fake tree department, we had too many choices – sparkling pines, gold-flecked firs, pre-lit spruces, downswept evergreens frosted with artificial snow.
“I’m thinking seven feet,” you said.
The least expensive tree cost $200. “Maybe you should’ve kept the little one.”
The truth was, I knew we’d never have another Christmas together. I wasn’t sure exactly when it would happen, but I knew we wouldn’t last another year.
“Think about it: we’ll have it for years,” you said.
I felt sick. I walked out into the open-air Garden Department and let the cold, late-November breeze relieve my dizziness. I saw tiny, live conifers the size of the one you had discarded, looking like the sad, deformed twig in A Charlie Brown Christmas. I wanted to leave, and I chose the most pathetic one and carried it inside, where you were still considering artificial trees.
“Let’s get this one,” I said.
“It looks half dead,” you said.
“But we have ornaments and tinsel. No one will be able to tell what’s underneath.”