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When I was 14-years-old, my parents rearranged the living room furniture. This meant that once Christmas arrived, they put up the tree up in a different spot than the year before.

I threw a tantrum. I had a big old teenager fit. It was wrong. They are ruining everything. Why were they doing this to me? My parents understandably told me that they were sorry, but the tree couldn’t go in the same place as last year and could I just please explain why this was so important?

I couldn’t. I don’t know why I couldn’t, because I clearly remember sitting on the couch sulking over exactly what the problem was. I just could not articulate it.

The year before, I developed appendicitis a couple of days before Christmas, and spent Christmas in the hospital, recovering from surgery. It was a grungy Christmas day, with brown grass where snow was supposed to be and freezing rain much of the day. My parents brought my brothers to the hospital for gift-opening and I didn’t feel like I was really missing out hugely. I had a TV to watch all the time and nice pain shots and lots of books to read.

But part of the reason it didn’t bother me too much was my belief that I could just do it all next year. So when I was 14, I saw that Christmas as my replacement Christmas. It wasn’t the next one, it was the replacement. And just how could it be a replacement if it was different? It had to be the same!

I never explained that to my parents and they were left to chalk it up to crazy adolescent hormones which, no doubt, were also in play.

I was reminded of this when I talked to my folks a couple of days ago and they told me that this year they have decided not to bother with a Christmas tree. At all. No tree. Can you believe it? Isn’t there some sort of rule that if you celebrate Christmas, you have to put up a tree?

I was shocked and briefly outraged. When I converted and gave up the possibility of having my own tree, I consoled myself with the knowledge that I could always go over and help decorate my parents’ tree. And, since the kids were small, I have always taken the kids over to do just that. So how could they just up and bail?

Then I realized that, really, it just doesn’t matter. I actually don’t care if my parents have a tree or not. Christmas, for us, is about hanging out with the family. Small gifts are given, which adds to the fun. But for my kids, the tree, Santa, reindeer – it all belongs to them to do with what they wish. And if they wish to skip the tree, so be it. Oh my god, I’m growing up.

I am going to kind of miss the old ‘tinsel: tossed on in a clump or placed on one strand at a time’ argument. Stopping the dogs from eating the ornaments broken when Boo drops them won’t be missed, though.

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