Our little tree.
Here I am, barely eking it out, and what do I do? I plunk down sixty bucks for a Christmas tree. Yep. Instead of heading over to the big box home improvement store to pick up a $40 tree like any responsible, budget-minded person would, I wound up at a small, family owned, boutique lot. And let me tell you, for twenty dollars more, I sure got a lot less tree. Yes siree! Hardly any bigger than my statuesque 5’3.
When it comes to Christmas, my daughter, like me, is quite the traditionalist. A significant part of our holiday tradition involves Santa and Sons, where we’ve been getting our tree since Olivia was a toddler. I have to admit, as far as Christmas tree lots go, Santa and Sons is kind of magical. How I love getting lost amid the make believe forest of towering nobles and majestic Douglas firs, the air thick with the heady scent of pine. As Olivia says, Santa and Sons "just feels like Christmas!" And for her, buying our tree there sparks the excitement of the holiday season. The thing is, you end up paying extra for that little bit of sugarplum fairy magic and extra is what I simply don’t have this year.
In my current economic situation, I find I’m a bit more willing to forgo tradition and make a few compromises for the sake of saving money. After seeing my friend’s beautiful seven-foot noble fir, for which she paid a reasonable $40, I suggested to Olivia that we too, get our tree from Lowe’s. Well, you’d think I’d desecrated the very sanctity of Christmas.
“We are not going to Lowe’s to get our tree, mother. We have to go to Santa and Sons. It’s tradition!”
“But we can’t afford Santa and Sons this year, sweetie. I wish we could, but we can’t.”
She left the room in a slight huff.
Olivia is quite aware of our financial situation and she knows we’re doing the best we can, but it’s not easy for her. Aside from a strict adherence to tradition, Olivia also doesn’t like change of any kind. Never has. I know she sometimes wishes things were back to the way they once were. I know she wishes we still lived in our big house with the pool and that her dad and I were still together and that grandma and grandpa were still around and that we could still have sushi once a week like we used to.
Nevertheless, Olivia also knows there's no going back and she’s ever so slowly beginning to accept the fact that change is inevitable, whether she likes it, or not. She’s finally learning, first hand, that change often occurs on a dime, when you least expect it, and when you’re nowhere near ready for it. I’m forever reminding her that change is one of the few constants in this life. You can always count on change.
“Yeah, I know, mom,” she’ll sigh. “You’ve only told me that like, a 1,000 times.”
There was nary a tree within our price range at Santa and Sons this year. I told Olivia I simply could not justify paying $79.99 for a 5' tree. She understood. On our way to Lowe's, we happened by a local neighborhood lot. In less than a minute, we found it-- the perfect noble fir. And that was that.
Still, it cost a bit more than I'd hoped. As I handed my debit card to the perky Santa’s helper, I felt a tiny wave of nausea. I knew I was cutting it close. Spending $60 on a tree was going to put a chink in my checking account for sure. I know, I know, not a very fiscally responsible decision, I know.
So, why did I spend money on a tree I couldn’t really afford? It’s very simple, really. I did it for her. I did it for that adorable little face staring at me with those hopeful, puppy dog eyes as I crunched numbers in my head and thought it over. I did it to preserve our tradition. I did it because I knew it would make her Christmas special.
And for me, that’s all that matters.