Oh Tannenbaum

Räuchermann (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

This morning I woke up and bought a Christmas tree. Berlin, as usual these days, was a mottled, cotton-ball gray and drizzly. But I had plaited my hair for the occasion, and we all know that there’s nothing more festive than a Christmas plait.

The walk to Südkreuz from Schöneberg isn’t a particularly pretty one. It’s not a far walk, but the Sachsendamm is a wide, industrial stretch of road, along which you pass the giant furniture warehouse with its America-sized parking lot, a long, low sports center, and the car-crammed entrance to the highway. But I’m especially good at pretending during Christmastime, and as I walked, I imagined myself in a dark green forest, surrounded by tall pines and lightly falling snow. I saw my future self lugging my little tree up the apartment stairs and decorating it as I sang along to Perry Como and sipped on hot chocolate swizzled with a candy cane.

I love the romance of Christmas – its clichéd images of rosy-cheeked children and sugar cookies, Santa hats and snowball fights, warm and cozy comfort foods. Though truthfully, I can’t remember the last Christmas I had that fit into such a glittering, glistening box. I haven’t had a white Christmas in years, so there’s been no sledding, no snowball fights, no bowls of homemade snow ice cream – the stuff my childhood holidays were made of. Most of my Christmas shopping involves feeding my credit card number to the internet and every time I try to listen to Christmas music I have to navigate a sea of bad Wham.

But I’m changing all that with this Christmas tree.

Santa's workshop (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I almost didn’t get one. I’m leaving here halfway through December, and I wondered how worth it it was to lug a tree through Berlin and up my four very long flights of stairs for 15 days of enjoyment. That’s not even a month of Christmas tree enjoyment. But every year I say, This is the year I’ll get a Christmas tree of my own, and every year there’s some logical reason why I shouldn’t get one. So I don’t.

But this year, I’m creating my own Christmas cliché. As I carried the little baby tree through Berlin’s wet and foggy streets, its evergreen perfume made me happier than being in quiet, green, snow-filled woods. And after I finished carefully hanging decorations on all the best branches, I even sang along to “Last Christmas” when it came up on shuffle.Christmas ornaments (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Darkness comes early to winter Berlin, but for once I don’t mind. The white lights twinkle on my tree, reflecting off the golden ornaments and tinsel. My little Räuchermann is smoking away on his pipe and I’ve got a mug of hot chocolate beside me. I don’t have a candy cane to swizzle it with, but in my new Christmas vision, what I’ve got is just what I want.



  1. Gail says:

    I’m so glad you finally got your tree, Lyz. All joys of Christmas to you.

  2. Catrina says:

    Love the story, and love the tree! It’s always worth it – even if it’s only for 15 days! We are so thankful that you’ll be with us for Christmas this year. If it snows, for sure, we’ll be serving home made snow ice cream. ;)

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