Chicago sure goes all out for the holidays. Point in case: the million lights up and down Michigan Avenue, trumpets and holly flanking Macy’s, and the Chriskindlmarket in full swing. And let’s not forget the CTA holiday train.
I was waiting on the train platform after work last Thursday, replaying the dreary events of the work day through my head. Then, the CTA holiday train pulled up. Day —> turned around. I’ve only been on the CTA holiday train once in the past six years. Happy surprise.
Santa seats and holiday music!
Not pictured: Santa. Or my new BFF, Emily. The cutest little girl sat next to me on the holiday train. We made pizzas on her dad’s iPhone. We shared kitty stories. She asked me if I had babies (seriously, you too, Emily?). And then she called me her best friend. All of this occurred within the span of four stops.
So, even though I haven’t bought one Christmas present yet, I’m starting to become less of a Scrooge. I can’t get behind the mad commercialism of the season or the nonstop made-for-TV Lifetime Christmas movies. But the CTA holiday train? I can get behind it.
I admit it: I am a Scrooge when it comes to the holiday season.
While I do enjoy the merriment of festive gatherings, the excitement of my little brothers and sister waking up on Christmas morning, and the occasional listening of Dolly and Kenny’s Once Upon a Christmas album, I have trouble getting into the spirit of Christmas or New Year’s.
Yet, I put up a Christmas tree every year. A direct slap in the face to my inner Scrooge.
Informal friend and office mate polling has shown that putting up a tree is not, in fact, representative of a person’s level of holiday spirit. To trim a tree or not trim a tree seems to have more to do with amount of apartment space, time and money. Many people who love the holidays don’t put up a tree, and conversely, some people (like me) put up a tree because they like decorating.
Apartment/condo tree trimming seems to come in four forms:
1. Wilderness girl (or boy) trees (Real pine)
People in the city who have real trees are most likely to have been boy scouts or girl scouts in their hay days. I don’t know how they do it. But. The fresh pine scent is lovely enough to make me want to pack up my gold purse and cowboy boots and go camping again. On the flip side, the pine needles and pressure of proper watering makes me want to run wild through the forest. My dear friend Megan Boley is one such wilderness girl—she’s been known to take fresh Christmas trees on the Clark bus. She is my hero.
2. “Going Green” trees (Artificial)
My tree is in this camp. It has an endearing Charlie Brown quality, trimmed in hand-me-down and clearance-bought ornaments. It’s definitely not as pretty or fragrant as the real deal. I’m telling everyone that I’m “going green.” It’s much trendier than telling everyone “I’m still lazy.”
Pardon the gratuitous kitty-under-tree photo.
3. Alternative tree
I once had an apartment that was smaller than my current one. Essentially, it was a studio with an extra room. The holiday centerpiece of this apartment was a miniature tree about a foot and a half tall, decorated with miniature ornaments. I still have that little guy, even though he qualifies as an alternative tree.
One of my Martha Stewart-like pals, Sunya, said she once decorated a rosemary bush, which doubled as fresh herbs after the holidays. Brilliant! I’ve had less success with my alternative trees. My mom bought me a cute tiny pine tree one year, but I ended up killing it as I do most household plants.
4. Tree-less tree
Tons of folks string lights and put up decorations but forgo the physical tree due to aforementioned constraints of space, time or money. The more I think about it, the tree-less tree is the way to go–all the glitz and glam with less fuss and no space sacrificed.
To those with tree-trimming backgrounds, what’s your style?