We didn’t cut our own Christmas tree this year.
No stopping by the woods on a snowy evening.
No Currier and Ives snap shots;
No selfies of she and I, standing in some snowdrift,
Cold as a Minnesota winter, and surrounded by green forest;
No sock hats, or gloves or … the search for a perfect Christmas tree.

Somehow, we just couldn’t muster it, this year.
Schedule crowded.
And, a few health issues.
Pain, and stiffness,
And that look in her eyes;

We’ve seen it before.
That certain look in both of us;
That certain ‘knowing’ that told us, without words, what we already knew:
We simply can’t, this year; we would try, if either of us asked the other;
For a certainty, either of us would go, if the other really wanted to go.

But, honestly? Neither of us spoke up, this year.
Cold, and snow, and ‘trees’ would be very difficult.

And so, we didn’t cut our tree, this year. We unboxed it.
We got a plastic pine tree out of a cardboard box.
Perfectly shaped; perfectly lit, with six-hundred lights.

I didn’t count them. But the printing on the box said “Six-hundred incredible lights.”
(I took their word for it.)
Now, that imposter sits in one corner of our living room, silent as a sentry, 
Standing at attention, 
Hoping, I suppose, that no one notices;
No scent of pine;
No sap, dripping from appendages,
No needles dropping to the floor.
Like some impersonator, pretending, or acting like a real tree,
And longing for attention from some adoring fan who might enter the room.

An evergreen pretender now stands in our living room, waiting for gifts and Christmas.
Limbs stretched, and straight as any broom stick.
Bilaterally symmetrical and perfectly shaped.
Six feet tall, and then some.
Politely narrow at the bottom,
(so as to not occupy “too much” room
… in the room.)

And narrower, still, at the top, so the eye of any beholder can follow a predictable line;
A continuous and measured line along carefully manicured branches.
Exactly the right lengths.
Longer branches on the bottom rows,
Gradually becoming shorter as they progress
Upward, to the top.
Reaching limbs, festooned with six-hundred lights
I never even bothered to count.

From the floor, ascending toward the ceiling and that promontory,
Yes, That top.
That apex that begs for some angel to come and perch;
Some well-chosen ornament, some star to be the Star;
Or some celestial or angelic being,
With arms outstretched like any good hevenly host,
And silently mouthing the words to “Silent Night.”

Not like it used to be, though, you know?
Not like it was when the kids were small,
And the money was tight.

Somehow, as I remember it, the cold didn’t seem so biting, back then.
The snow wasn’t so deep, either. Not so deep we couldn’t go cut a tree.
And the arthritis pain didn’t seem this bad.
Hot chocolate to warm us, while we trudged through the beauty.
And homemade chili as a special treat, before we took our treasured pine tree home.

The trees we cut back then?
The limbs weren’t perfect.
And the shape wasn’t perfect.
The trees not so ‘ever green,’ after they had been inside for several days.
But they were, quite simply,
Honest to God (and goodness) ‘Christmas Trees.’

And we both — she and I — missed cutting ours, this year.
Now that I think about it,
There’s a lot of things about Christmas that I missed this year.

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