Thursday, December 24, 2009
This is our first Christmas alone in New York, uncomfortably far from our families. This afternoon we set out to buy a Christmas tree, my first in the city. Earlier this morning I stopped a guy on our block to ask where he got the Christmas tree he was lugging in his handcart -- for you non-New Yorkers, here they wrap your tree in tight netting for the trip back to your apartment. It looks like you are holding it hostage, but really it's a sign of good cheer and merriment.
As the afternoon started darkening we headed over to Amsterdam and La Salle to get a tree. We also needed a Christmas tree stand, and we assumed we could get one where we bought the tree. But, like Mary and Joseph getting rejected from all the good hotels in Bethlehem, this was not to be. We then embarked on a 40-minute trek through the neighborhood, stopping at many pharmacies, bodegas, 99-cent stores, houseware stores, and hardware stores until, again like Mary and Joseph, we finally found a reasonably-priced Christmas tree stand. Then we lugged the stand back to the original tree place on La Salle, and selected a slim little fir tree to wrap up in netting and parade back to the apartment: our festive little holiday hostage. As you can see, she's a real beauty.
Tonight we had lasagna for dinner, a nod to the Christmas Eve Stouffer's lasagna dinners of my childhood. Tomorrow we are eating L's classic beef brisket, which is marinating in our fridge. L bought some cheap stockings from a dollar store in Florida to bide our time until she finishes cross-stitching our real, long-term stockings, and we have a handful of ornaments we've gathered from the last few years -- a few brightly colored balls, a couple of random Bush-era White House ornaments, and some quality ones we got as wedding gifts. We have the ornament we received from my cousin who passed away (the card says, "special delivery from heaven") and the crystal snowman I received from my late Aunt Evie. It's a little funny because our tree is severely under-decorated -- we had to be strategic about where we placed the ornaments, because we don't have many. Originally I thought we should divide the tree into equal sectors and decorate accordingly, but for some reason this plan was not implemented. We didn't have a star for the top of the tree, either, so we ended up tying a bow out of a length of ribbon -- and it wasn't even a pretty bow, but more like a utilitarian shoelace bow. In the end, though, I'm very happy with the result. It felt lovely and genuine to listen to old Christmas songs and decorate our tree and welcome our family, in whatever small way we could, into our new home.
Merry Christmas, everybody.