Yes, that’s my Christmas tree, and yes, I took that picture today—January 3, 2019. I know many people have already packed up their Christmas decorations and taken down their trees, but I’m in no rush.
Last year we bought a taller, narrower tree. Instead of a naked pole with dozens of branches that need to be put in place and fluffed, this seven-foot beauty came in three pre-lit pieces for easy stacking, fluffing, and lighting. I had to make it more difficult by adding three extra strands of clear lights (can a tree really ever have too many lights??), but it was still easier and faster to set up than our previous tree.
As if that wasn’t amazing enough, last year we also mounted our TV to the wall. That allowed us to move the TV and stand out of the corner, creating a natural, just-the-right-size nook for our now perfectly-lit tree.
Those happy lights—soft white among glowing jewel tones—perk up the often-melancholy Michigan winters. We may not get the most snow of all the states and we may not have the coldest temperatures, but we have one thing that sets us apart: aquatic borders.
In case your geography is rusty, Michigan is surrounded by water (the Great Lakes, to be exact). I don’t know all of the technical, scientific terms for why that’s important, but I can tell you the result of it:
A gray, atmospheric blanket.
We’re not talking about cloudy skies, here. We’re not even talking about gray clouds. I’m talking about a solid cover of gray. My deep knowledge of meteorology (master in fifth grade science class) assures me it’s just clouds, but my eyes see the ugly, wool emergency blanket, once stowed in my trunk, supernaturally enlarged to cover my entire region of the state. And it’s not uncommon to be covered from November through March with only a few days of glorious sunshine.
I don’t mind the wet, heavy lake effect snow storms. I don’t mind shovelings paths through the back yard so my tiny dogs can pee without fear of disappearing. I don’t even mind the drivers who insist on speeding through low visibility in their white vehicles with their headlights off.*
But the gray … months and months of gray.
That’s why my Christmas tree—which we set up November 2—is still up, and it will probably be up for a few more weeks (my husband, also a fan of Christmas lights, is hoping to keep it up through Valentine’s Day). When I haven’t seen the sun for days (or weeks!), and the thick, colorless sky begins to drip into my soul, I turn off the lights and turn on my Christmas tree. Those hundreds of tiny lights sure do go a long way to brightening my day.
*I lied. I hate those drivers. YOU’RE GOING TO CAUSE AN ACCIDENT—TURN ON YOUR HEADLIGHTS! I feel better now.