The day after Thanksgiving, and my mother doesn't want to shop. Wow, am I relieved! We're actually taking part in national Buy Nothing Day, which is quite a step for a family that bonds through consumption. I'm so proud of us. Instead of fighting the crowds and giving myself a colossal headache, I spent all day in my pajamas, putting up our Christmas tree.

In another large step toward her anti-yuppification, I managed to convince my mom that we did not live in a department store, thus there was no need for our tree to be tasteful and coordinated. For the past few years, she's been putting up this tree with very tasteful tiny green lights, burgandy bows with gold trim and gold ornaments. How very boring, eh?

I do not want tasteful, I do not want a department store Christmas tree! I want the kind of tree that Martha Stewart would cringe at. I want the handmade ornaments that were gifts from my mom's former students, I want the Baby's First Christmas ornaments. And I got it too, I started off by topping the tree with the star that we used when I was a kid, this creation made of tinsel and ten different colored flashing lights. I strung five strands of blue, green and white lights around the tree so it's lit up like a runway, and covered the thing in every diverse ornament I could find. And what do you know, my mom's very tasteful elegant burgandy bows look great on it too.

The bad spot for the day came when I tried to get a hold of my friend from high school, Lisa. I left a message on the machine and her mother called me, and told me that one of her close friends had passed away, a man that is the father of one of our mutual friends. He'd suffered from a stroke a week and a half ago, and I was under the impression that his condition had stabilized, but I was wrong. I called her over at the man's house, where she was with his son...and I just didn't know what to say. Being on the recieving end of such things when my own father passed away, I know how it feels...and how there's nothing that anyone can say to make it better but you're just glad to know that they're there. You'd think, having been there myself, I could think of something poignant to say...but no. I don't think this ever gets any easier.