The Christmas Tree

[The following true holiday story was written all the way back in 1998.]

When the suggestion of decorating the house with a Christmas tree, colorful lights, and signs in our living room window that screamed "HO HO HO" came up, the Scrooge in me bubbled to the surface. I told my then-roommate Loren, "We're not gonna waste our time on that festive holiday shit!" He was disappointed by my attitude and shuffled away, while I secretly delighted in his misery because his wild-bordering-on-psychotic enthusiasm was wearing on me at the time.

But two weeks before Christmas, an item at the neighborhood Walgreen's store caught my eye: it was a small pine tree, the base of which was wrapped in burlap. And it was on sale for 99 cents! I skipped up the sidewalk, humming "Jingle Bell Rock," with my new purchase at my side. I had caught the spirit, and I was bringing it home. No more "bah humbugs" would come out of my mouth. I was ready to spread joy.

I stood at my kitchen counter, scooping dirt into a large plastic green flower pot, as I was going to transfer the burlapped pine into it's new home. And I was going to set the lovely little tree on the dining room table as a symbol that would remind us of peace and joy every time Loren, my other roommate Doug, and I sat down for a meal.

I whistled "Silver Bells" as I was about to put the tree into the new pot. Loren walked into the kitchen, looked at my project, and yelled, "What are you doing?!"

I said, "I'm not gonna be mean anymore. Look! I got a Christmas tree!"

Loren stared straight at me and declared, "That's not real!"

"What?" I asked.

He then picked the pine tree up and threw it against the wall where it hit with a loud THUD and dropped to the floor. I fell onto my knees, examining the tree closely and realized that it was actually a thick piece of wire with plastic branches jutting out from the center.

Loren stifled a wicked laugh, as tears came to my eyes. He pointed to the tag on the tree and read, "Natural Look."

He couldn't hold it back. He laughed with glee, as I fled to my bedroom to pout after throwing the fake tree into the trash. Minutes later he came to my door, offering his condolences. I told him to go away, I didn't want to talk to him, I was upset, I was mad that he laughed at me, leave me alone. He did so, and I sat there, dejected and deflated and drained of any and all Christmas spirit.

An hour later, there was a knock on my door. "What do you want?!" I screamed. No one said anything. "What is it, for God's sake?! Come in!" No one came in.

I trampled to my door, opened it, and saw, sitting on the ground, a potted pine tree decorated with ornaments and little holiday knick-knacks. The tree was real and fresh and green and smelled great.

I immediately went up to Loren and gave him a big holiday hug and said, "Thanks for the tree. That's a nice thing you did. I'm really touched that you care."

"I don't care, actually," he said. "I felt guilty. It's a gift of guilt."

There's something to be said for wild-bordering-on-psychotic enthusiasm.

—December 1998


  1. Guilt + Christmas = Hanukkah.

  2. At least you didn't buy the retail Charlie Brown Christmas tree...which is fake and actually flaunts its crappiness.

    Happy Holidays!

  3. Awww! Why did I expect this touching story to be the turning point of someone being upgraded from then-roommate status?

  4. That's ADORABLE in a weird way.

    Much like how BEN LEE is ADORABLE in a not-weird way with his bits of commentary on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s (or whatever it's called). ADORABLE.

  5. Diana, how dare you entice me with Ben Lee commentary, knowing full well that I don't have cable and cannot have access to his ADORABLE-ness?!

  6. That's a story that bears annual repeating. Next year you should make your very own Christmas special of it. What better than a Very Prince Christmas?

  7. PRINCE.

    I had NO IDEA you don't have cable! And if I did, I'd completely forgotten. From the depths of my soul, I apologize. Can't you watch those shows on youtube, anyway? If I could, I'd tape them for you. I COULD DVR them at my parents' house if you want. But then you'd have to watch them at my parents' house. With my parents.

    Conclusion: Get cable.