The Ugly Tree in Rockefeller Center is Everything We Need Right Now

What we stand to learn from the little tree that couldn’t

Vanessa Torre
Nov 19, 2020 · 4 min read
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Photo by Javier Gutierrez Acedo via Creative Commons

have never in my life identified with a conifer. All of that changed the minute I took one look at the tree that will adorn New York City’s Rockefeller Center this holiday season.

Usually, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is a majestic specimen that is the most iconic image of a Christmas tree I know. It is lit to the hilt and celebrated by musicians, many of which are of the county variety which is weird for New York City, who gather for a television special so that all can take in the tree’s beauty.

That will not be happening this year.

This tree looks like 30 miles of bad road with a detour. It is the tree version of Monty Python’s dead parrot. If congealed, canned cranberry sauce were a tree, this would be it. It has been plopped out onto a plate with a thud that followed a weird suction sound.

This poor thing encapsulates all that is 2020, even more so than the actual dumpster with the letters “2020” on it that was lit on fire last weekend in Phoenix as a public art installation for us all to enjoy.

At this point, we are all just done. We are over it and so is this tree. It can’t even right now.

A couple of weeks ago, the temperatures dropped and I realized that I could no longer skate through the rest of this pandemic wearing flowy skirts and sundresses. I had to face the reality that it was time to put on pants. This idea immediately sucked the rest of the little joy I had right out of my life.

This threadbare tree is my new soul sister. It does not want to put pants on, either. You can’t make it. It tried once but a button popped off and the zipper broke.

This tree, like the rest of us, does not want to deal with the holidays and they literally dragged it kicking and screaming out in front of a skating rink like a toddler. It does not want to dance for Grandma.

It is the annoyed employee wearing pajama bottoms on the Zoom call.

It is the mom bribing her kids to focus on their online classroom with gummy bears. Mom regrets this later, by the way. Giving kids sugar as a bribe never ends well.

It is the fourth frozen dinner we’ve had this week because cooking is a bunch of crap and we’re tired. Hell, it’s the protein shake we’re drinking because we have lost the desire and energy to chew solid food.

Here’s the beauty of the tree, though. It’s there. It’s up. They are going to wrap that girl in lights and shiny things. That tree is going to do its damn best to show up and fake it until it makes it. Just like us. And it will be okay. Everything will be okay.

We’re all just trying to get to 11:59 on December 31st when we can take a big breath of air and hope to God, or whatever entity we have chosen to worship this year out of desperation, that 2021 restores some sort of normalcy, faith in mankind, and hope for the future.

In the meantime, this tree is a solid reminder to all of us that we’re making do. Good enough is good enough right now. Nothing needs to be spectacular. No one needs to remind the pig that it’s wearing lipstick. The pig knows. Oh, how the pig knows.

We need to channel this ugly ass tree the entire holiday season. When you’re concerned about whether the turkey is going to come out dry on Thanksgiving, think about the Rockefeller Center tree. It’s like honey badger. It doesn’t care. Let’s not care about the level of dryness of the turkey. There’s food. That’s enough.

This tree has let us off the hook and freed us. We owe it to ourselves to honor that.

We owe ourselves enough grace to serve our family Kraft Dinner as a side this holiday season if that’s all we can manage and answer any off-putting looks or snide remarks with, “2020, amiright?”

Two years ago, I started a weird little holiday tradition. On Christmas Eve, I head out to a near-empty tree lot and buy a lonely, sad-looking tree. When I say “buy,” it’s in loose terms. Usually, the lot owner just gives it to me. I mean, what is he going to do with it at this point? It’s one less thing to haul off.

I do it because I can’t stand the idea of those lonely, cold Christmas trees sitting in a dark parking lot on Christmas because no one wanted them. I have way too many feelings to allow for that kind of abandonment.

This year, it will have even more meaning for me. I want to take whatever little Charlie Brown tree I find and make her feel like she’s a Rockefeller Center because we all deserve that. I’m going to open up a ridiculously good bottle of wine I’ve been holding on to for some “special” occasion because I deserve that, too.

Everything is weird. This tree in New York City though? It’s comfort. It’s everything we never knew we needed.

Assemblage

A work of art made by grouping found or unrelated objects.

Vanessa Torre

Written by

Flaming pinball, nerd, music lover, wine snob, horrible violin player. No, I won’t stop taking pictures of my drinks. vanessaltorre@gmail.com IG: vanessaltorre

Assemblage

A collection of things or people. An object made of pieces fitted together. A work of art made by grouping found or unrelated objects. A publication on Medium.

Vanessa Torre

Written by

Flaming pinball, nerd, music lover, wine snob, horrible violin player. No, I won’t stop taking pictures of my drinks. vanessaltorre@gmail.com IG: vanessaltorre

Assemblage

A collection of things or people. An object made of pieces fitted together. A work of art made by grouping found or unrelated objects. A publication on Medium.

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