Before the holiday season officially ends, I want to send out a tribute to Anna Mai. This was my second Christmas without her, which still feels strange, especially with lockdown making it impossible to see each other. Despite living together only a few short years, probably my favourite Christmas memory involves her; our second Christmas living together.
The first Christmas we lived together, Anna lamented missing the country. She missed the way the snow sparkled, and the smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree in the house. It’s something I sympathized with, I also grew up in the country, and we had a fresh cut tree every year. Both our work schedules kept us in the city pretty close to Christmas, not giving us a lot of time at home, and Anna’s job was particularly more demanding than mine, always bringing her back to the office much to early after family festivities.
That year, two of my co-workers delivered Christmas trees on the side for a high end garden centre, and during my company Christmas party, I managed to convince them that a tree should ‘fall off the truck’. Without letting anyone know what I was up to, I managed to sneak a tree stand and some decorations into the house, and I waited.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Anna Mai so excited as when my friends came into the apartment with the tree. The helped us get it set up, and I sent them off with some road beers as a thank you, and then it was us and our tree. It was a very nice tree, but not super large. We managed to decorate it rather quickly, and voila, my surprise Christmas present to Anna was complete. I think she slept in the living room three nights in a row to reveal at the tree she was so excited.
Having a living tree in an apartment wasn’t without it quirks. To dispose of it, we ended up tossing it off the balcony, into the back parking lot, so we could drag it to the curb. I think right up to the day I moved out of the apartment I was still finding pine needles in my socks.
To this day though, I still remember her face when she saw the tree, and the adoring looks she’d give the tree from across the room. Even after Christmas, when it was getting sad, and droopy, as live trees so quickly do, she still loved that tree. To be honest, I don’t think anyone has ever loved a gift I’ve given them the way Anna loved and appreciated the tree. Remembering her and the tree, it’s hard not to feel the love and gratitude that she emitted, and to send it right back out into the universe.
That was the feeling I was missing before Christmas – the excitement, and appreciation of the world around me. This year found me really digging deep to find that love and gratitude, and it almost came to me too late. This year was definitely a struggle for me, and for a lot of people in my circle. With the new year about to start, here’s hoping things will start to turn around, and to start looking up. Hopefully next year, this will have completely taken a brighter turn, so that love won’t be so hard to find!
And of course, our tree, that will live in my heart forever.