Because who doesn’t want to see me dressed as a banana: White On Rice FREE on Hulu!

It’s almost December. The other day, I listened to Tony Bennett singing holiday favorites. In fact, I may listen to it again.

I’m trying to decide whether to fork over dough for a farm-raised Christmas tree, buy a little live one and replant (where to replant?), or invest in a fake tree.

I grew up in the Land of Towering Pines. We had three little trees growing in our backyard, and one year my parents decided to use one for for Christmas.

Remember the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree?

Ours was worse.

When I was a kid, I was aware that we didn’t have that much money, but I always had ballet lessons and piano lessons and violin lessons and ski lessons and –

Ah. Maybe that’s why. My parents worked really hard to ensure my sister and I turned out well-rounded and educated and stuff. And I know that some years were tougher than others. Looking back, this must have been one of those years. Not that my family was ever chained to the idea of nabbing the perfect, cone-shaped tree for the holidays. No, that was just me. Most of my friends got the freshly pressed fir, trimmed it within an inch of its life, and surrounded it with piles of gifts. One of my friends (?) actually guffawed when she saw our tree.

Friend (?): What’s that?

Me: What?

Friend (?): That. It’s pathetic.

Me: I know.

I wish I could say that I stuck up for our little tree. That I defended its character, its unique, albeit frail appearance. But I didn’t. I was embarrassed. I muttered something under my breath and then shouted something about COOKIES. Thanks, friend (not actually a friend, in retrospect).

Often, I wrestle Christmas. All the decorations, the music, the food, the spirit…groovy. But it’s hard not to fall prey to the giving-of-things-to-show-love phenomenon. Because I love giving gifts. I love wrapping them. I love surprising people. But as I get older – ahem – more mature, I realize that most of us don’t need more stuff. Stuff is fun. Hell, I often LOVE stuff. But after moving the last time, it became fundamentally clear how NOT fun it is to pack stuff into boxes. There are certain things that I’ll always treasure, but that’s because they have particular histories.

I envy the glossy magazine rooms with no clutter. But I’m suspicious of rooms with no books. I fantasize about a home free of paper, but haven’t figured out how to better file documents. I shake my fist at the cats who seemingly have no end of fur. But they make me laugh and one of them lets my jam my cold feet underneath her warm belly.

Ideally, I’d like to hire a Stuff Intern who could sift through everything, sort it, and make it look neat. College credit, yo.

We live in a culture where buying someone a car can actually cost less than the emotional toll of saying I’m sorry. I’m sure I’ll always love giving gifts and I’ll always appreciate getting them. But round about now is when I try to check back in with what I actually need. And of course, what’s vital, what’s most important to me, what usually gives me even more in return, is already in my life.