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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Tree Bitch

Until recently I was a December 23rd person.  Yes, I would actually buy a tree two days before Christmas. Which is strange because I am a "Christmas Person". I do get wrapped up in all the excitement of the holidays, I take out my other decorations, nativity scenes, candles and holiday doodads.  But the tree always seems so final and decadent. I mean even two days before Christmas a nice tree is still not cheap. I mean $50 is still expensive for something that I know I'm going to throw out in three days. The real reason might be that I have a deep seated fear of house fires. So fearful that I sleep in my nice underwear instead of in the nude. My Mother and Grandmother used to scold me: "don't sleep in the nude, there might be a fire....and then what?" It was the "and then what" that I always worried about. The idea that there's six feet of potential kindling in the middle of my living room leaves me uneasy. I want the tree in my home as short a period as possible. 

I still love the process of trimming and decorating and I do enjoy the pine scent wafting through the house. So this year I decided to take the plunge and buy a tree early.  So after a night of celebrating my birthday with too much booze and strippers, hungover, I decided to get a tree.  I realize a hazy state caused by  alcohol poisoning is never a good idea to do anything, but since I have a busy holiday schedule, Sunday seemed like the best time to do it.   I had been to church earlier in the day (I truly believe it's OK to be hungover in church) and I felt a tad bit "Christmassy".  Which when looking back was just the alcohol getting in a last jab.

I pulled up with the hubby in the fancy convertible and sent him home to get the station wagon. Parking was limited because of a large semi with a new shipment of tanenbaums from North Carolina. It was a hot dry day. Bored boys sat around the tent waiting to earn a few extra dollars trimming and bagging trees. A cardboard sign read "please tip the boys."  I put on my "happy mask" as I walked in to pick and purchase a tree.  I picked the tree easily and then she arrived: the Christmas Tree Bitch.

Christmas Tree Bitch was a true blond, of the Eva Braun variety.  She was driving a big black ugly Mercedes Benz that looked suspiciously like a Chrysler "sport wagon". She wore a pair of faded linen shorts that went mid thigh. A hint of spider veins and a small bruise were on her upper thigh. She had on a Rolex. She was tasteful.  Apparently she missed the whole charm school lesson about being "demure". A trail of three blond "tweenagers" followed in lockstep, goosestepping as she walked into the tent. She announced to no one and everyone that she needed three trees because "Carol had three."

Now in my mind, there were two Christmas Tree Bitches; this one and one named "Carol."  The irony of Carol's name was not lost on me.   Officiously the CTB ordered the workers to pull out the best trees for her. She went on and on about Carol's trees.  It was hot, I was hungover and my husband had still not returned with the wagon.  I looked at CTB and I then I truly saw her, she was one of the 1%. I finally had a face for all those nameless job creators out there who are so disconnected from the rest of us that bragging about trees, money, and access seems natural. The idea that the hoi polloi helped them achieve this status might seem ridiculous. 

It was at that point the whole meaning of Christmas and the Occupy Movement all came down on me. This idea that someone could be so disconnected from reality, that when surrounded by poor boys working for tips, transient Christmas tree workers, and other shoppers would act so grand and petty at the same time. I realize that she probably doesn't know what it means to go hungry, to go without and that charity is more than just writing a check, but respecting the struggles of others and feeling just a tad bit guilty about having so much. I realize that I have so much in my life, and that those boys working for some extra cash for Christmas on a very hot December Sunday are the ones that have it hard. 

I wanted to scream "shame on you, don't you know people are suffering in poverty?!" I wish I had.That might have been self-satisfying. But I do drive a BMW convertible. I have a cupboard full of food. I've been broke and grew up wealthy. I might very well be a member of the moneyed elite someday. I know the feeling of satisfaction of being able to provide excess to my children and friends. I even know the short-term satisfaction that snobbery provides.  At the end of the day I realize that through my life I've been those boys working for tips, the men running the tree tent and sometimes even the Christmas Tree Bitch.  

I just hope if I am the Christmas Tree Bitch.....somebody will call me on it.

Happy Holidays.