I’m sitting in my papisan chair, the one that must be balanced against a corner of my writing studio or it will undoubtedly revolt and topple me over or just plain throw me out. But when I’ve piled the pillows in order, when the center of gravity is perfect, and when stars align just right, this is a glorious place to sit.

Max thinks so too. From his perch behind my head, he can see for miles. He pretends like he owns the neighborhood. He’s very charming until he walks across my keyboard.

I put up my Christmas tree in this room that is circled in windows. The tree is narrow and artificial, seven feet of white-lit brilliance that shines down over the neighborhood, with an Ikea blanket piled underneath in a way that’s supposed to look cast aside and nonchalant.


The whole neighborhood can see my white tree. The boys and I checked on the way home, and you can actually spot it from three blocks away. It’s our declaration that Christmas is happening, here and now.

Robb would have hung all the outdoor lights by now. This house begs for new nail holes and hooks. The boys have many questions and big hopes for what the outside of our house might look like this Christmas.  I don’t know, guys.  I’m not making that decision right now.

Robb used to start hanging lights in October. And he would ask me to hold his ladder steady as he climbed up high. And I was always annoyed – he had interrupted me, I didn’t want the boring job of standing under him and hoping he didn’t fall on me, and I was probably dealing with some degree of score keeping or entitlement.

But he was afraid of heights. And he was decorating my home, our home. And when I was nearby, he felt safe. I was his security.

And I wonder why I didn’t just hold the ladder, why I didn’t partner with him for his favorite tasks of the year, why I didn’t encourage and appreciate his outdoor design, and why I didn’t choose joy.

Why didn’t you just hold the ladder for him, Tricia? That’s all he wanted you to do.

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