I moved to LA about a year ago and this is my first Christmas away from a snowy climate. I decorated my small apartment for Christmas, but this year we decided not to get a tree. My husband and I are childless (two furkids) but I go apeshit over Christmas. I love having a tree and am really bummed out we don't have one this year.
Winter is a dark, bleak time, cold and barren like an apartment without a Christmas tree.
Why do we need Christmas trees? Because they're the Christmas trees of winter.
Living in darkness changes a person. It throws cold water on your spirit and makes your heartsong a croak. Look what it's done to my colleague Cord Jefferson, a seasonally nice fellow who now spends his time penning angry diatribes against holiday cheer. Winter transforms your soul into a cold, empty place—like an apartment without a Christmas tree. In winter, any kind of light looks beautiful: the yellow glow of a stranger's bathroom; the vibrant red of a teenaged driver slamming on the brakes while hydroplaning (which you actually shouldn't do); the bitch moon. And the lights wrapped around a Christmas tree.
Forget, for a moment, that you are too jaded and cynical for a Christmas tree. Forget you even know what a Christmas tree is. Now, imagine yourself walking into a friend's apartment. Holy shit, dude—there's some kind of monster in here. Chill out; it's a tree. I brought it in from outside, because I thought it would look cool. It's all twinkling or some shit; is it on fire? Oh my gaaaad! No, man, those are small lights; I wove them through the boughs so that the tree would look warm and happy and lit up from the inside. Where in your house do you normally keep these shiny balls? They look awesome and expensive as hell. I bought those balls specifically to hang from the tree because I thought they would look like crazy apples and they are actually not that expensive. What's up with this tiny deer covered in silver glitter? I got that on sale at Bath & Bodyworks; I had an old gift certificate.
You would want one in your home immediately.
if you're not religious (and Lord knows the number of people who put
trees in their living rooms because they think a magic evergreen brought
little Jesus gifts of Frankenstein(?) and
mhyrrh myhr hmyr murr is ever
dwindling), there's something to be said for the comfort of the
Christmas tree ritual. You do it every year, in roughly the same way,
and it helps to mark the passage of time.
For the nonreligious, there is nothing inherently important about holidays. We weight them according to how much work they require. Take away the tree from Christmas and Christmas becomes what? Slightly more difficult to pull off than Valentine's Day.
You could argue that it's silly for adults to want their years to be peppered with special days requiring cards and gifts, and you'd be right—it is silly. But it's not pointless. Things that make you feel better—that give a little color to your days; that break up the monotony of everyday life—are not pointless.
Like all holidays (with the exception of Administrative Professionals' Day) Christmas is celebrated largely for the benefit of kids. But arguing that childless adults shouldn't have Christmas trees because they're "a kid thing" ignores the fact that nothing benefits kids more than grown-ups being in a good mood. Christmas trees help adults get there, like a shot of spiked eggnog or heroin.
But perhaps the best argument for Christmas trees is the simplest: they smell great. (My favorite is the soft-needled concolor fir, which fills the whole room with the scent of oranges.) You might not have the fanciest house, but goddamn if you can't make it smell like an enchanted forest. A fragrant home makes walking through the front door a pleasure.
Cord, I invite you come to my apartment any time (with my supervision) and bask in the warm glow of my Christmas tree. You will stagger in drunk on haterade, but I will sober you up with a cup of cheer (a seasonal cocktail made with peppermint schnapps). Merry Christmas.
[Art by Jim Cooke]