The Loh Life is writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh's weekly take on life, family, and pop culture in early 21st century Southern California.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh

Oh, Christmas Tree

This holiday season has been tough. 

It’s not just that Christmas begins too early and is basically an exercising in draining my visa card.  It’s not just that 2012 was a year, weirdly, where practically everyone I know lost a relationship, a family member, or a  job. . . And in the latter case, it was responsible middle-aged people suddenly losing stable jobs that they had excelled at for many years, for no reason except, “Everything’s going digital.”  Just in time for the holidays.

Of course, the kicker was the horror of Newtown. 

It was not just the tragedy and the loss, but that it occurred in a charming Connecticut town which itself looks like a Christmas card.

 As a mother of two girls who not so long ago were six, I can’t stop thinking about Newtown.  I can’t stop reading about it.  I can’t stop agonizing about it. 

I can’t stop reading article after article about assault rifles and Bushmasters and the NRA.  I am thinking about those 20 kids and their teachers all day long.

And how do you talk to your children about it? 

Well, my 12 year old had already heard about it on her tumblr feed before I picked her up after school.  My 10 year old heard about it when she found me crying about it in the kitchen.  Another great moment  in mothering.  They were both very sad about the tragedy, but also still wanted a tree.  I was going to suggest just skipping all the needles and the mess this year—given the fact that all of us would be away on Christmas anyway?  But  no.

Part of my reluctance is that even the little church lot we go to is a little “Charlie Brown Christmas,” in the sense that while the prices are great—35 bucks!—no one else but us ever seems to be there.  And it always makes me worry for that little church, with its red-cardiganed Latino volunteers,  that it won’t be there the next year.  But as we pull into the lot, I’m pleased to see the brave spray-painted signs as usual, “35 dollars!”—and we drive around to the back.

My daughters run into the small group of trees with delight, and as they disappear into the deep green, I feel just a little better. 

I am divorced, but I have learned to haul a tree over a stoop by myself, and even though our original family is broken, we have made a new tradition. 

No matter what happens, children will always run ahead joyously into the smell of pine if they can, and nothing will stop them.

The dustbuster will help too, on January 2nd.  And in the meantime, merry Christmas.