Oy, Christmas Tree

I’m still sick and it’s maddening. I’m aware that whining about a holiday malaise betrays my Ninth Rule of Order but I waited a full day before announcing my frustration, and rationalize that this post may grant someone the comfort of solidarity.

I ducked out this morning to do errands and grossed everyone out the minute I heaved my sorry ass onto the sidewalk. I came home to realize even permakitten Grace was put off by her roommate, which, on general principle, annoyed me: I clean her shit, for heaven’s sake. I may be on the mend but am stuck in that deeply irritating stage in which you feel better but sound and look far, far worse. With my rattling cough and mucus-laden speech, I am 2016’s Typhoid Mary, and am super not into it. Send Calgon and comics from where ever you are. Kisses if you can spare them.

In other news, I hated my Christmas tree this year. It had charm, don’t get me wrong. Stubby and lumpy, it was a real Charlie Brownstone, and the price was on point. I almost bought it from the corner deli on the way home from Christmas Eve services but the dudes were still asking 45 clams, so I waited until that 70-degree Christmas morning, when they agreed to deliver it up to my third-floor walk-up for twenty bucks. They even threw in the stand for free.

But I shouldn’t have gotten it, no matter how good an idea it seemed. My apartment felt swampy and claustrophobic even without a gaudily festooned pine tree (once December hits, my radiators blast heat no matter how balmy it is outside), and Grace seemed to resent rather than embrace it. She made a few half-hearted swipes at its branches but mostly glared at them and at me, who kept sneezing and moaning from the vicinity of my bed.

Even decorating the tree was no fun this year. Hanging the little bears and birds and gold lace ornaments that I usually treasure felt less like a labor of love than just plain laborious, and I managed to electrocute myself twice while untangling a string of purple lights.

I usually keep my trees until January but started to loathe this one long before that. By New Year’s Eve I lumbered out of my sickbed to heave it to the curb, sweating and cursing and hacking phlegm all the while. I spent the last hours of the year cleaning up a carpet of pine needles from my wood floors and every other surface of the house. (How did those fuckers creep into my sweater drawer?) As I did so, I swore to myself: Never Again. Never again would I do something just to say I’d done it. Never again would I placate my inner child with a ritual that made my adult self gnash her teeth. Never again would I try to cheer myself up when it’d be wiser to surrender to my hard feelings. There’s a bigger lesson to be extracted, I’m sure, but right now my head is too full of cotton to extract it.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy