We bought our first tree on Saturday – as in, for the first time in my life, we forked over the money for a Douglas Fir shipped south from the forests of Oregon.
Because call me a cheap Scot, or simply practical (although that label is generally reserved for my man…), there’s actually a need for a Christmas tree in our living room. We’re not traveling this year: I’m not making the sometimes-woeful trek by car or pulling out all stops to entertain a toddler on an hour and a half plane ride.
Instead, we’re staying put. We’re now the ones waving good-bye to most of our friends who are still traveling for the holidays, and in anticipatory glee, we’re dreaming of our first Christmas together apart from extended family.
And truthfully, it makes me giddy and unsure and delighted, all at the same time. At 34 years old, I’ve never spent the 25th of December apart from my parents. I’ve never not known what it’s like to eat crab on Christmas Eve, or chop down the tree from Palmer’s Tree Farm in Keizer. I’ve only known shopping for stocking stuffers the day before Christmas – boys for girls, and girls for boys – and cinnamon rolls, fresh out of the oven, on Christmas morning.
Our little family of three is embarking on its own rite of passage.
And isn’t a necessary part of the journey?
Maybe saying yes to the Great Unknown Adventure is a bit like traveling to a new country for the first time: you finally land in Roma, and squealing, you absorb the shouts and sounds and smells that make up this new land. You hail a cab, but in your very broken “I swear I listened to three Learn Italian! CD’s found in the discount bin at Barnes & Noble,” you wonder if you actually know enough to make it on your own. Because you haven’t done this before, so even though you’re a little scared you’ll land in a ditch far from the Audrey Hepburn Roman Holiday encounter of a trip you dreamed of, you begin to trust in the moment. You trust that you are strong enough and brave enough and smart enough, too, and that what you have and who you are right here, right now is enough.
And I suppose, in a tiny sort of way, this encompasses the adventure we’re embarking on for Christmas this year – and we are elated thus far.
Because sometimes when you’re on the Great Unknown Adventure, you drive an hour south in search of the perfect tree farm, but despite your best navigational efforts, you never find the place. Instead, you see a goat farm, and you think to yourself, Well, we are on an adventure, aren’t we? So you pull into the Harley Dairy Goat Farm, and much to your heart’s delight, the chèvre samples are plentiful, and a dear friend has landed there too, and, well, what do you know? Goat farms just happen to sell Christmas trees. So the tall man straps a tree to your car with twine, and you begin praying to eight-pound, six-ounce little baby Jesus that he knows what he’s doing. Might this tree stay put and not go flying like Santa’s reindeer onto the great Highway 1 abyss, pretty pretty please.
And then you get home, and you and the HBH [Hot Black Husband] eat sushi and split a red velvet cupcake; you don your red and green hats, and with John Legend’s epic O Holy Night playing in the background, you decorate your first tree.
Who knows what next year will bring – whether a goat farm and sushi and cupcakes will be formally deemed Tradition – but you just know that you’ve participated fully in the Great Unknown Adventure.
And that, my friend, is exactly what you’re supposed to do.
What about you? What Great Unknown Adventure are you embarking on this year? And, if you’ve jumped into celebrating a holiday “on your own,” what new traditions have come your way?