Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oh! Christmas Trees!

In the middle of November, I received this note: “Lots of town and FaceBook chatter about the obnoxiously early lighted Xmas tree on Valley near the A&P. This is begging for a Jessica Wolf post/column!”

Perhaps, dear note writer. But it may not be what you expect.

I saw those trees for the first time a few days before Thanksgiving. (There are two of them, one close to the road and one further back toward the house.) They’re tall and festooned from head to toe with multi-colored lights that appear to stay lit day and night. I had my kids in the car with me when I drove by and I said aloud, “Oh, those must be the trees that everyone’s talking about.”

“In what way?” asked the teenager.

“I think people are mad that they’re lit up so early,” I said.

“People are mad?” asked my son. “Does anyone really have time for that?”

His question stopped me short, and I immediately put an end to my thoughts about Christmas Trees and began instead to think about Being Mad, wherein it dawned on me for the first time ever that I have never really had time to be mad about most of the things I get mad at. I make time.

The incident that first comes to mind is when the guy in Hoboken stole my sofa. It actually wasn’t a sofa, it was a chaise longue or a fainting couch, and it actually wasn’t even mine, it was my husband’s and before that, his mother’s. It was old and ornate and it was covered in a golden fabric that was decorated with little embroidered bees. The fabric was wearing thin, so I found someone – a guy with a storefront shop – who said he would recover it. He came over and measured. I picked out my fabric. I gave him a deposit. He took my sofa. And that was the end.

The end, as in: I never saw my sofa again.

He didn’t return my calls. His shop was always locked up. The storefront eventually closed.

I called the police. I filed a small claims suit against him. I went to court. He never showed up.

I tracked him down at a waitering job. I found out where he lived. I barged into his apartment. I demanded justice. He told me he would make good.

He never did.

I spent close to a year enraged about what he’d done. I was mad about the sofa, my deposit, the court system, his ability to lie to my face, as well as the fact that he had the same name as an upstanding television dad from my youth. I was mad that I had to breathe the same air as he did. In short, I thought he should be annihilated.

My husband said to me, “Let it go.”

What? You don’t let things go if you’re in the right? I’m right about this! This guy is lowly pond scum. Why should I let this go?

“Because that’s the only way you’re ever going to feel good again,” my husband said. “You have to let it go, even if you’re right.”

My teenage boy was just a little baby at the time, and as anyone with a little baby knows, moms don’t have time for much of anything. But I was able to find plenty of time to be mad. Which, in the long run, got me nowhere.

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with thinking that it’s unbecoming to light a tree too early in the season. But, I sure hope it was a fleeting thought for most.

I actually like the trees, and I don’t mind at all that they were lit in the middle of November. Someone had the forethought to string their lights up before it got so cold that their fingers become numb with the job. Also, it seems that they went up right around Fall Back Day, just as daylight was beginning to get cut short. That’s the whole point of tree-lighting, isn’t it? To help us endure the short days and long nights with something sparkly and festive to look at?

I love outdoor Christmas decorations, and as far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as too early or too late. Or too garish, for that matter. It’s dark and cold, and it will be for months – I say: bring it!

(This post appears on Montclair Patch, HERE.)

1 comment:

  1. This is a very deep post. The whole idea that we simply shouldn't get worked up about the things that drive us nuts is revolutionary. It's a quality I've noticed in the very few people I've known who seem to have "attained enlightenment"--some Rabbis and yoga teachers and a few ordinary folk. But most of us actually revel in our rage. After all, it's something that's happening, right? It's an event, the fact that that jerk cut you off, or that the guy stole your sofa, or that someone said something rude to you. We think we have so little actually happening in our lives that when something anger-producing takes place we jump on it. But we shouldn't. We should remain placid and find reasons to rejoice in our day to day.
    Also, isn't it cool that people are saying "This is a perfect subject for a Jessica Wolf article." You're becoming Nora Efron or Erma Bombeck. Way to go!