I moved into my house about 5 years ago. At the time, I was involved in a relationship with an on-again, off-again boyfriend. There were good reasons for this lack of committedness, though I shall not delve into them here. For two years in a row during the holidays, he and I were profoundly in the off-again mode. Thus, I was reduced to putting up the Christmas tree without another adult around to assist me.
I am not a particularly mechanically inclined person. This could be inherited from my mother. When I was a kid, she was famous with my sister and me for her lack of aptitude at dealing with electronics. I remember her coming into my bedroom as a teenager when my music was blaring, and randomly poking at the buttons on my ghetto blaster in a frustrated attempt to turn off The Who or Led Zeppelin or whatever else I was listening to at the time.
This is not a trait I find very endearing in myself, and it was exacerbated by always having had men in my life who were good at fixing things for me. They pounded nails, and measured things and glued broken pieces of things back together for me, while I was off doing the more abstract things for them that I’m naturally good at doing. For me, this was truly one of the more unsettling aspects of living on my own. Therefore, the “simple” act of putting the Christmas tree in its stand became symbolic of some of the most painful issues I was dealing with at this point in my life: the loneliness of my love life and its undependable nature, the pressure of needing to do things for myself which had previously been done for me, and all of this hitting me at the darkest and most challenging time of the year. How difficult can it really be to put a tree in a stand and throw on a string or two of lights? Well for several years running it was quite a demoralizing and harrowing task for me.
First of all, I had to haul the tree into the house by myself which was awkward. After locating the stand (requiring a trip down memory lane through the Christmas stuff which had been hewn into two parts, half of which now resided with my former husband), there was the realization that a couple of inches had to be cut off the bottom of the trunk of the tree in order for it to fit into said piece of junk I’d acquired from God knows where. For this task, I used a serrated knife from my kitchen, because the people who design and manufacture cheap plastic tool-kits like the one I owned apparently didn’t feel a hand-saw should be included. The knife worked, but it took a very long time and made my arm extremely sore in the process. Maybe it’s harder to do this sort of thing sober. I suppose there are some people who would just toss back a couple of hot toddies and plow straight through this kind of task without any whimpering. Maybe it’s even a thankless chore for those fortunate enough to have innate mechanical abilities. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the men in my life swearing over it before, but at least I was standing by to comfort them. I don’t really know, but for at least two years in a row, this project resulted in an abundance of tears and feelings of sadness and frustration at a time of year where I was hoping to be joyful.
So two years ago, on New Year’s Day, I had a private session with the woman I am blessed enough to call my counselor. I wrote down a few simple “resolutions” on a scrap of paper. None of them were too grandiose or elaborate, and in fact, one of them was to simply discard the dysfunctional Christmas tree stand and replace it with something better. I hit the post-Christmas sales and picked up a new one immediately. I packed it away with my Christmas stuff. By the time the following Christmas had rolled around, my life had certainly changed. I had a new sweetie right there with me to help me put up the tree, and I was not struggling so much with the loneliness, grief and ineptitude that had been symbolized by my un-helpful Christmas tree stand for those first few Christmases in my new house. Some chores are just not meant to be done alone.
So this year I will continue the tradition I started two years ago of setting a few humble, simple goals or resolutions. They will be straightforward, simple, easy to accomplish, and not extravagant or costly, but will be conceived with the idea of manifesting something higher for myself. Then I will go about my business and watch what happens.