A Very LA Christmas

A Very LA Christmas

This year, my husband and I decided to purchase a “living” Christmas tree.

Did you feel that? That was my entire, Midwest family rolling their eyes in unison.

We wanted a living tree as it felt like the responsible thing to do because, you know, global warming. Plus, we liked the idea of someone delivering it to our house and then taking it away when the holidays were over.  

It seemed like a great plan. Except I’d forgotten that by doing this, I’d be giving up our tradition of going to the tree lot and picking out a tree – something I did with my family and now do with my husband, Jason.

Instead, our tree was delivered by two men – one in a red tracksuit wearing gold-rimmed sunglasses and another who insisted we call him “Gregnog.”

The tree itself looked like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree all grown-up. And let me just tell you, he peeked in high school.

Later that night, as we tried to figure out how to use our tree skirt to cover the giant pot the tree sat in, I began to regret our decision. Something I thought would be so cute was starting to feel a little too… L.A.

Even though I’ve lived here for almost ten years, I’ve always prided myself on holding onto my practical, Midwest roots. Despite being a bit of a dreamer, I have a lot of my no-nonsense grandma in me – a woman who, when asked how Grandpa proposed, responded, “I don’t know. He just did.”

I’ve always assured friends back home that I’m not the kind of person who buys into any of the big city claptrap. Once a few years ago, I was told I hadn’t changed at all since moving away. I took that as a compliment. “I’m still the same,” I thought gleefully. “I’m doing it!”

But that day as I handed Gregnog a tip, I realized it might not be true anymore. Not if I was honest with myself. Not if I really looked at my life.

My husband is a Buddhist, I write jokes for a living, and our Christmas tree is just an oversized houseplant.

Good God, what had I become?

Was I changing? Was I turning into someone I didn’t recognize? Come to think of it, I hadn’t even insisted Jason play my favorite holiday album, “Sesame Street Christmas” – a screechy tribute to my childhood.

Was I letting down my guard?

Since the day I moved to LA, I’ve been so resistant to change, especially during this specific holiday. This place didn’t have snow. It didn’t have cute little tree lots. It didn’t have most of the things I recognized as being what Christmas meant to me. So I spent a lot of time fighting against any new tradition that came my way.

But the truth is, I’m not the same. Not really. And while I’ll always treasure the traditions of my past, I also need try to be happy in my present – to honor both the person I was and the person I’m becoming.

Maybe it’s a little like our tree. When we’re faced with something new – something that doesn’t look exactly how we think it should look – we resist. We struggle against it at first but then, after adding a few colored lights and well-worn ornaments, we step back and realize it’s just as good – maybe even better.

And eventually, while we still hang on to some of our old traditions, slowly, slowly we change.

And we learn to love something new.


This piece was originally written for the Fargo Forum.  You can find them (and me) here.

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