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Holiday spirit’s not in the tree

It’s Christmas time, and as a new home owner, I’ve been feeling the peer pressure.

“You have to get a tree!” cries just about everyone.

Lights! Over-sized candy canes! SANTA!

“You’re such a Scrooge/Grinch,” they scold, after I bemoan having to buy and store decorations that benefit no one.

The problem is, I don’t feel much need to decorate for Christmas. There are no children in my household, I don’t hold any religious affiliation and I’m not thrilled with having to put up and take down Christmas lights, struggling on my ladder while the string falls down on my head.

I happily give out presents, but if the decorations are just for me, why is abstaining such a big deal?

After much cajoling, I did end up supplementing my sparse two-bedroom apartment Christmas decorations with a real tree and some lights, as well as some decorations that were kindly donated to me.

I admit, I feel a bit guilty when I look at my poor tree, cut down in the prime of life, only to be discarded in a month. I may have to resort to plastic next year to assuage my guilt.

This is the first time I’ve had a full-size tree in many years. While I had a tiny one for my apartment — which I was quite content with — I can’t remember the last time I had to lug a tree in and out of the house.

At my mother’s, we resorted to cheerfully decorating the mantel in lieu of a tree many years ago. We haven’t put up any lights in recent memory either, living in the country with no one but us to appreciate them.

The first year we went sans tree my brother and I protested vigorously, but I see the sense in it now.

We were older, my mom was a single parent working full time, and trees are a pain in the ass. Not to mention the constant pet-versus-tree warfare. We got used to the new system quickly, and frankly, the mantel looks quite pretty all done up with garland and stockings.

But I suppose the one benefit I derived from decorating for Christmas this year was learning the name of another neighbour.

As I struggled to put up my new icicle lights, which had fallen down three times already because I stubbornly resisted putting nails or staples into my house, a neighbour across the street came over and asked if I needed help.

She held up the string of lights while I attached them to my flimsy plastic clips. The teamwork took the weight of the string off each clip, and was exactly what I needed to successfully hang the lights, which have stayed up ever since.

I appreciate that helping hand much more than the plastic lights themselves.

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