Le Dernier Mot: A Tree is Not Just for Christmas
Kristin looks deep within her soul and discovers there is something a little hors norme.
Last fall, when my niece started university, one of her assignments was to share something unique about herself. Wondering how I might answer the same question, I was surprised at how difficult it was to come up with something hors norme. As the months passed, and still with no clue, I began to feel an urge to explain or even defend this apparent lack of originality. Then, a little glimmer surfaced at the start of the holiday season. Unboxing our artificial arbre, I remembered there is indeed something very curious, odd and étrange about yours truly: I leave my Christmas tree up half the year. That may not be a personality trait but it does have a way of building character – more about that in a moment.
While the traditional time to take down one’s sapin de Noël is on Epiphany, in France you have until February 2, La Chandeleur. But I’m too lazy from eating all those crêpes. Come Valentine’s Day, our glittery faux spruce really is looking out of place and I’m considering swapping reindeer and snowflakes for hearts and chocolates. But oh, la flemme! It takes a lot of time and patience to rearrange so much décor.
Easter would seem a good moment for a straggler to get the chore done, but spring fever becomes a good excuse to put it off a while longer. This far into my délire, I have discovered an added benefit of a Christmas tree in springtime: the reaction (or non-reaction) of visitors to our home.
Watching the plumber pass by our blinking tree in May, comme si de rien n’était, makes me giggle inside… though I must admit to feeling self-conscious when my husband’s friends and their stylish wives come over. Don’t say a word, I whisper to myself. Especially don’t explain. If the awkwardness gets to be too much, I can always play the Foreigner Card: “Oh, it’s a tradition we have back home. My mom leaves hers up all year long.” And she does (or did, before moving in with us).
My grown kids handle the tree anomaly with humour and nonchalance. When posting to Instagram from our Christmassy living room in June, my daughter notes: “nothing unusual around here…” and my son keeps a running bet – un pari – with friends about just how long the tree will remain on display this year. How could I disappoint them? While a perennial Christmas tree might not be that quirky, it does build character. Each time I bite my tongue and don’t offer excuses or explanations to others, I am evolving. Though that is not unique, it feels good. As good as sitting down with an iced tea on a hot summer night to enjoy paper snowflakes and twinkling lights.
HORS NORME = out of the ordinary
UN ARBRE = tree
LE SAPIN DE NOËL = Christmas tree
LA CHANDELEUR = Candlemas
LA FLEMME = laziness
LE DÉLIRE = delirium
COMME SI DE RIEN N’ÉTAIT = as if nothing were amiss
Un pari = a bet
Lead photo credit : Kristin’s salon at Easter © Kristin Espinasse
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