A new year. It was a new year. It was the first new year whose coming I had not celebrated. I had not anticipated such a new year.
After a fourteen-year marriage, I was alone. The house I’d lived in, worked on and renovated was lost to me. She had that. I would keep my future pension. That was all.
I was uneasy in my new place. Winter-bare trees stared in my windows. I stared at the rented walls, the rented high ceiling, the rented hard brick floor. It didn’t feel like home. It was the nicest place I could find. It had all I needed, a small kitchen space, a nice bathroom, two bedrooms and a fireplace in the living room. I had my books, my old vinyl, my 16-year old TV. Still, I felt like a visitor, as though this was a hotel room far from home. It seemed cavernous, empty and cold.
After almost four months there, I decided I was going to have a Christmas tree, but I had no ornaments. eBay to the rescue! Over the next two months I found and purchased dozens of old glass ornaments. I’d remembered the thin glass ornaments my parents had decorated the tree with every year, many of them German, family heirlooms. Online, I found indents, and double indents, and triple indents! There were multicolored ones, all fragile, large and small, and round ones, tear shapes, bell shapes and cello shapes.
I had walked down the street to the neighborhood tree lot. They brought in-state trees down from Mora every year. I carried my tree home, as though I had walked into the forest and chopped it down myself.
Once decorated, the tree stood there silently all through Christmas. As the new year arrived, I’d grown to accept it as part of my house. The place seemed more like a home. On New Year’s day, I built a fire and kept it going all day, for just me and my tree.