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Published December 16, 2013, 12:55 PM

Parenting Perspectives: O Christmas tree, can I celebrate without thee

Christmas is next week, and as I write this, I am not prepared for the holiday. Maybe it’s because I am not surrounded by the appropriate décor to get me in the mood.

By: Kathy Tofflemire, INFORUM

Christmas is next week, and as I write this, I am not prepared for the holiday.

Maybe it’s because I am not surrounded by the appropriate décor to get me in the mood.

Due to a temporary storage situation, I can’t access my artificial Christmas tree or the lights or the garland. I might be able to get to the ornaments, but what would I hang them on? I could go buy a real tree, but then I would have to also buy a stand. And I would have ornaments but no lights.

It’s just too complicated.

When I told a friend that I didn’t think I would have a tree this year, she said, “But you have to.”

Hey, I enjoy a decorated tree as much as the next person. I recall the real trees of my childhood and how my mother liked green and blue lights rather than multicolored ones. (I go for red and white, myself.)

I remember as a newlywed, going off with my hubby to a tree farm to chop down a fresh tree that ended up being nearly too tall for our second-story apartment.

I recall following my daughter and her boyfriend as they hauled a fresh tree home in his pickup. I also remember the tree falling out of the truck on a main thoroughfare in Manchester, Conn. The transporters never noticed. I stopped and stuck the darn thing in the spacious trunk of my Chevy Caprice (nicknamed the Prairie Schooner by my New England co-workers). I couldn’t begin to get much more than a branch or two in the car I now own.

But let’s face it. Why do I need a tree? I haven’t always had one. After my daughter moved back to Fargo and I was alone in Connecticut, I’d just decorate with garland and candles and the like. It seemed silly to put up a tree for me and the cats. I usually spent Christmas Day with friends.

And now?

My grandsons are past the age when the sparkling tree makes them wide-eyed, and my current feline companion is too old to attempt to climb one; the past few years she has been content to lie underneath it, preferably behind the wrapped presents.

A-ha, there is the issue: Where do we put the gifts?

Now, I don’t need to discuss how we seem to have forgotten the real reason for the season. You have all read essays on the subject and probably heard it spoken from the pulpit.

Most of us know in our heart of hearts that our focus is too often misplaced: the decorating, the Christmas cards, the baking, the shopping, the gift-wrapping (the part I dislike the most).

But earlier this month, I spent several hours at my church, where a dozen homeless people were our guests for the night.

I watched one woman, probably close to my daughter’s age, come downstairs in the morning, carrying all she owned – in a black garbage bag.

It is hard not to think: “There but for the grace of God go I.” How dare I concern myself with whether there is a tree in my house under which to place items that I and my family really don’t need?

I try to make appropriate charitable gifts during the holiday season and to have paper money handy in case I should come across a red kettle somewhere.

But that doesn’t begin to make up for my succumbing to crass commercialism.

So, about that Christmas tree. I did see a small pre-lit one on sale at Target …

Kathy Tofflemire is a copy editor at The Forum. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5514, or ktofflemire@forumcom.com