Despite having been together for ninety kajillion years, Sean and I have never spent Christmas together. Don't get too excited, we're not spending this Christmas together either---I'll be in Singapore with my family, he'll be in Connecticut with his---but we have, this year, finally taken part in the time-honored ritual of lovey-dovey couples everywhere: choosing and decorating a tree.
Now honestly, a fair amount of effort went into this: Sean, a reasonable and very generous man in all other aspects of his life, was of the opinion that a Christmas tree---for two people who weren't going to be spending Christmas together---was a waste of time and money. "What's the point?" he said for weeks. "I'm leaving on the 20th, you're leaving on the 21st, the cats will probably knock it down, it'll die within the week, we'll be sweeping up pine needles every day, and then we'll come back in January just to have to dump it on the curb."
"Oh darling," I said. "You're such a hopeless romantic."
But what do you know, continual pressure and pleading will really wear a man down. (Exhibit A: our first cat, Charlie, adopted with the caveat "oh fine, but just this one." Exhibit B: our second cat, Sadie.) And so this weekend, we drove to a Christmas tree farm---not so much a "farm" as a makeshift dirt forest in the parking lot of a Ross Dress For Less (which, ha!, by the way, my brother Luke once saw from the window of a car and misread as Cross Dress For Less, let THAT one sink in)---and bought ourselves a tree.
And yes, we named it. Aren't you supposed to? Our tree's name is Hamish, and Hamish and I are pretty close. In fact, I spent a lot of time giving Hamish long lingering hugs---my arms wrapped around his middle to hold him steady as Sean cut the trunk---once we got him back to the house and propped him up in the corner. "I knew you wanted a Christmas tree," said Sean, snickering as I held the tree in a tight embrace, my nose inches from its prickly branches as I braced him against the saw. "But I didn't know you wanted one that much. I mean, you and that tree should just get a room."
(Oh yes, about that: Hamish didn't fit in the Christmas tree stand we'd bought at Target, which meant his trunk needed to be sawed. We don't own a saw, apparently, and so after half an hour of frustrated futzing about with the Christmas tree stand, Sean ran up to the hardware store at the top of the hill, and returned triumphantly ten minutes later with a very sharp saw indeed. With a feverish glint in his eye, he cranked up the stereo, shouted "Take that, Frenchies!" and attacked Hamish's trunk with the blade. Honestly, it was like a scene from American Pyscho in our living room. You know, if Patrick Bateman had been a tree surgeon.)
So now the tree is up, its piny-clean scent filling every room in the house, its irritating needles requiring vacuuming from the rug every time I turn my back, and my hitherto Scrooge-like boyfriend stringing little white lights with the best of them. Our ornaments are a mix of plain old 18-for-$2 glass baubles from Target and high-end candy canes currently Buy One Get One Free at Rite-Aid. "I think we probably have the only tree in the city," said Sean, "on which at least half of the ornaments are edible."
Oh, and because we are truly classy, we also have a cat in a Santa suit. No, really, you just try walking past a pet-sized Christmas costume in Target and not putting it in the cart. Sure, it meant we couldn't get the fancy laundry detergent---and I clean forgot the contact lens solution!---but hot damn, if that Santa suit wasn't the best ten bucks we ever spent. Next year, we probably don't even need the tree.