The very wise, very beautiful Beth once wrote on my wall on Facebook that my life sometimes reads as a novel. I tend to agree with her. Sometimes it’s wonderful. Lately it’s been fraught with complications and conflict and stress. And sometimes, it’s just plain slapstick with a touch of “awww man”.
Like this weekend.
I wanted a real Christmas tree this year. It’s my first as a single mom and I want the scent of pine in the house and to establish my own traditions. The kids are old enough now so they won’t eat the tree (hopefully) so I drove us around the corner to the tree lot set up in East Grand Rapids football field. The snow was coming down so hard, I thought we were all in a snow globe that a giant or a god was shaking. Snow everywhere.
Christmas music, happy families, and me holding onto my two kids’ hands, Louis and Simone, in their matching red coats. “What kind of tree would you like?” a lady asked me. She was thin with a very red nose (from the cold and not booze I’m sure). Louis immediately ran off to choose the biggest tree ever. I leaned in and said to the lady “One that’s not crazy expensive and that I can carry into my house…on my own.” She looked at me for a moment and smiled that knowing smile. “Over here,” she said. There was a sad little tree marked half off leaning against the fence. No one wanted it because it had a big hole in the greenery. I looked at that imperfect tree all on its own and I said “That is the tree for us”.
They trimmed the tree down a foot and presto, no hole. It’ now the perfect tree. A guy in a sweater that had a giant Christmas tree on it gave the kids free hot cocoa, and the woman with the red nose, stuffed my purse with mini candy canes. A young guy put the tree in the back of the car and I buckled the kids in…and in the storm and the white, we made our way home.
“Kids, get in. Get in! Boots off. Go in the living room. Why? Because mommy is going to bring this tree in. How? I’m just going to lift it, see? I’m going…shit! Oh, no, mommy’s fine. I said ship. Ship! because this branch looks like a boat on a sea. You don’t see it? Oh. Louis…just go in the living room. Don’t touch your sister! Stop touching your sister! Simone, could you get off my leg? I can’t….gruntgrunt….Yes, I’m hugging the tree. Simone, get off…because…just I’m going to….fuhhhh….fudge. Damn you tree! No. It’s a great tree. Look! Look! Mommy did it I did it!! High fives!! Look at that tree!!”
To celebrate, I decided to grab my computer from upstairs and post some pictures, came running down the stairs and suddenly I went flying, computer airborn, my feet out from under me and I landed flat on my back, like a giant X. “Oh.” I said.
“Hey, mom, you okay?” Louis asked.
“No, Louis, I don’t think so. Thank you for the kisses, Simone, but could you just, yes, kisskiss, could you give mommy space right now?”
“Why are you crying momma?” Simone asked.
“I just slipped on one of your toys honey. I just need a minute.”
And then I heard the sound of a tree falling in the woods, except the tree that was falling was in my living room and it was slouching before me just out of reach. I jumped to my feet. “Ship!!!” I cried.
“What ship?” asked Louis. And then he told me to sit down.
“But the tree!” I said.
And we watched it slouch to the floor. And I thought, "Oh, forget it". I sat down. Louis gingerly pulled my sock off, and touched the side of my foot so gently it was like a kiss. “Does this hurt, Mom?”
“I’ll take care of you.” He went and got a cool washcloth and put it on my foot. Simone ran over and hugged me.
“You okay, Momma?”
“I will be. We’re going to be fine.”
“Mom,” Simone said as Louis tended to my foot. “This is serious. I gotta tell you…”
“What’s that honey?” I said, and tried to push the tears back.
“I LOVE YOU!!” she screamed. And then both kids hugged me.
This is the start to my holiday season. And you know what, it’s going to be beautiful, broken foot and all, busted tree and everything, because I’ve got my kids and a family taking care of me, and friends calling me and texting me, and I have never felt such love.