Christmas Will Not Be Instagrammed

 

Five days before Christmas, I finally recovered. After coughing, wheezing, and hurling my way through a month of whatever plague spread across the country, it was finally time to decorate the house for the holidays.

First up: hit the local church lot and buy our belated Christmas tree. My teen daughters tagged along, but I insisted Dad was going to make the final decision.

I’m the breadwinner. The paterfamilias. The big guy who makes the important calls. And what’s more important than a photogenic pine I can upload to Instagram and impress people I’ll never meet?

I follow some impressive decorators. One lady put up six trees across various rooms, each decorated like a Christmas display at a pricy casino. Too rich for my blood, but I have to represent.

Before we entered the flappy white tent to select a mighty Douglas fir to dominate our great room, the girls stopped cold.

“This is the one,” the eldest said, “it has to be!”

“Yes,” her sister enthused. “It’s so cute!”

They stared upon a sad little shrub about three feet tall and just as wide. I’m being generous on the height; maybe three feet tall with heels. Charlie Brown wouldn’t have looked twice.

A well-dressed couple at the register looked at me with pity as their gorgeous 12-foot Tannenbaum was rung up. My daughters never noticed the disdain.

I tried negotiating with the kids. “We should at least look around,” I said. “There are all sorts of nicer trees in there. We could probably get a 10-footer that would…”

“But this one is so … fluffy,” my youngest said. “it’s perfect!”

Her sister agreed. “It probably gets bullied. This tree needs us. We can protect him.” Then they discussed what to name “him.”

“I call him Oompa-Loompa,” the cashier chimed in. “Isn’t he adorable?”

I guess she isn’t paid on commission.

This has all gone terribly wrong. I need a big, bushy, aromatic pine like my dad brought home – the same kind I’ve bought every year since the girls were born. I’ll barely squeeze it through the front door, trim the branches I snapped, add countless strings of lights, then watch the family spend an hour decorating it as we listen to carols and drink hot cinnamon cider.

This is how Christmas is supposed to work. It’s in the Bible.

Yet every father knows how this story ended. I sheepishly paid for the dinky Nordmann fir and watched the lot attendant strap it to the car roof. Could have tossed it in the glove box.

Mom was fine with Oompa-Loompa. She was more concerned about the flu I apparently gave her – and about our youngest who just started complaining about her stomach.

I set the tree on a makeshift platform next to our front window, wrapped it in a single string of lights, and the eldest and I hung up ornaments in a flash.

Between our humble pine and the illness spreading through the house, Christmas will not be Instagrammed.

Within a day or two, maybe I’ll agree with Linus Van Pelt. “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.”

All in all, a good reminder that the holidays aren’t about keeping up with social media influencers, but enjoying a few quiet days with the family, joking about tiny trees as we pass boxes of Kleenex.

Tonight, we’ll watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to hear Linus share the real meaning of Christmas.

“For behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

That’s actually how Christmas is supposed to work. It’s in the Bible.

First published in the Arizona Republic, Dec. 23, 2022.

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There are 9 comments.

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  1. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Needs a light blue baby blanket wrapped around the bottom.

    Good one, Jon.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Sweet. Merry Christmas, and I hope everyone is feeling better soon!

    • #2
  3. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    Thanks Jon.  But the revolution, will that still *not* be televised?  How will I know what’s going on ?

     

    See the source image

    • #3
  4. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    I imagine one lumberjack laughing his head off while cutting it down. Still, it has personality.

    • #4
  5. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: “For behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

    Amen Jon. 

    Merry Christmas! 

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    “For behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

    That’s actually how Christmas is supposed to work. It’s in the Bible.

    Sho’ nuff – I just checked. 

    Merry Christmas, Jon.

    • #6
  7. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Jon, you should be grateful that you have daughters with inexpensive taste.  Merry Christmas Gabriel family, and I hope you all get well soon.

    • #7
  8. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Happy Christmas, Jon, you’ll have to pull off some Peter Jackson Lord of the rings practical effects to make it seem a giant among trees & suburban houses, a growth of a different & mightier era… You owe it to the ‘gram!

    • #8
  9. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Love everything about this story – the tree was the icing! Merry Christmas!

    • #9
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