Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Last night I went out and bought a Christmas tree from one of the street-side vendors. This is one of those New York Christmas traditions that redeems an otherwise cruel and unforgiving place. Transforming small patches of sidewalk into a temporary pine forest; the strapping, friendly, Portland-esque people who staff these stands at all hours of the day and night; the merrily pathetic Charlie Brown trees and the flimsy plastic shelters the Portlanders stay in to stay warm -- all of it creates a very plausible, useful, and reasonable amount of genuine holiday cheer. Just this morning on my way to work I inadvertently got caught walking between a father and his kids and their local Christmas tree saleswoman, who the kids had clearly met before. "Wave hi to Molly!" the father called out. "Hi, Molly! Have a good day!" Although I felt like a tool for blocking the wee moppets' view of Molly, this encounter made me happy.
Although I was pleased with our tree, I immediately had concerns that it was a little on the shrimpy side. Yes, it's kind of narrow, but the price was right, and we're not exactly living in Versailles anyway. You always find the tree to match your season, and I think we found the right one.
L and I decorated tonight accompanied by Toni Braxton's Christmas CD, "Snowflakes," which was released in 2001 and has become a holiday classic (the same way the N'Sync holiday CD is a classic for my parents, my sister, and me). There's one song on the Toni album, "Snowflakes of Love," that always struck me as treacly and overly sentimental. "On this day, snowy day/Let me thank you for the joy you're giving me/I'm so happy/I have snowflakes of love smiling down on me." Who could actually feel that way? No one feels that way.
And yet, last night I was listening to the song, sharing a quiet moment with Alice as we danced slowly and contemplated the tree. "Reminiscing, I get so happy/I just break down and cry." No tears were shed, but at last I could understand that the song had been waiting for me for nine long years.