Santa Has a Death Wish

Five lessons of my first solo Christmas tree

Anna Murray


It’s my first Christmas tree in five years. A growing puppy discouraged a tree from 2018–2020.

Photo by Hert Niks on Unsplash

Last year, my father was dying, and I was just beginning to peel back the layers of my husband’s iniquity. Yuletide cheer was in short supply. So no tree in 2021 either.

This year, as I found myself driving through Westchester, I made a game-time decision to get a tree.

I pulled into the garden center and realized this is the first Christmas tree I’ve done solo in…Ever. For me, tree purchase and setup has always been intermediated by man: Father, boyfriend, fiancé, husband, husband.

Now on my own, when the nursery proprietor named a price, I instantly agreed. First, it was half of what I would have paid back in Manhattan. Second, I had no partner there, one who seemed to believe haggling over the price of a spruce is as intrinsic to the season as plum pudding and partridges in pear trees. I paid and shoved the tree in my hatchback.

Photo by Ian Keefe on Unsplash

Back in my apartment, time to erect the tree. This was another exercise, I recalled, that involved much cursing at tree stands, sawing, and tilting of trunks this way and that. Fifteen minutes later, my tree was up. Half an hour after that, it was decorated, with no debate about the proper method to string lights. I simply looked it up in the New York Times Wirecutter section.

Lesson #1 — Christmas tree purchase, raising, and decorating is a simple affair, spoiled by too many cooks. Probably male.

There was only one mishap. The dog, for whom this tree was a first, tentatively sniffed it. When his nose grazed a Santa Claus ornament, it fell, shattering to smithereens.

Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash

The dog turned to me with a wasn’t-me expression. One that said, “That Santa just committed suicide.”



Anna Murray

Tech expert, novelist, and essay writer with an ticklish funny bone. My novel, “Greedy Heart,” is First Best Book Finalist in the VIVIAN Awards.