19: Gradations

Our Christmas tree is up and it is beautiful. I can't remember if it is smaller than the tree I had growing up. I still remember our tree is enormous, glittering, a marvel. I used to adore helping my mother trim it: we would take trips to Fortunoff, she would give me a color scheme, and we would shop. When we got home I would put all of the ornaments in one section of the tree, where I could easily reach. We would turn off the lights and admire our handiwork. Then I would go to bed, and she would redistribute my decorations to make the tree actually look good. She told me this years later.

 Every year, I noticed with some dismay, our tree shrunk a little.

To Eve, it is enormous, like it used to be for me. She stared at it in stupefaction when I plugged it in. I played some old Christmas cartoons that I used to watch: way, way old cartoons, the kind that play operatic hymns in the beginning and the fonts in the credits an austere script, featuring a bashful Rudolph and an old man who dresses up as Santa to create gifts for small girls in an orphanage. Eve didn't pay them much attention. We watched Inside Out last weekend, so. This is nothing compared to Pixar. Am I old?

I must be, because I am the one buying trees and ornaments, but I am also rediscovering the wonder through Evie's eyes. So maybe I'm really young, too. Maybe life is simply gradations of impossible duality: artificial/real; enormous/small; old/young. The slashes are not as polarizing as we like to think. I like to think.