The Love Tree

Saturday, December 17, 2022

It wasn't a Christmas tree kind of year.  Between grueling visits to Dana Farber for cancer treatments, no holiday gatherings or parties, and my kids being away for Christmas, I just wasn't feeling the holiday spirit. It's not that I'm depressed, but I've had zero motivation to get a tree or decorate the house.  Bah humbug.

I'm so lucky to be a part of an incredible support group called CLL Women Strong for women living with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), which I cofounder and facilitate with my friend Michele Nadeem Baker.  Our group members are the most amazing, kind, and supportive women.

I posted an Instagram story last week about my pitiful holiday decorations (a few straggly branches on the mantle) and the fact that I wasn't getting a tree this year.  Besides lacking the spirit of the season, our "faux" tree is a train wreck. A few years ago we decided to make the switch to an artificial tree and purchased one of the fold-up umbrella types.  Opening it was a breeze, but folding it up with a joke. Richard and I simply couldn't figure it out, so we dragged it to the basement after the holidays, scratching the walls and woodwork on the way down.  It's been pitifully sitting on the cellar floor (fully opened) since last Christmas. Due to basement construction work, now it's almost impossible to get the tree upstairs.  Couple this with the fact that I'm feeling like Scrooge, and it's a treeless Christmas.

Not so fast.  Catherine, a support group member and new friend, took pity and asked if she could buy me a tree. As sweet as the gesture was, of course I said ''no''.  How could l accept her offer since I can easily afford to buy one myself? I thanked her profusely for her kindness, but declined.

Fast forward to a week later, Richard announced that there was a tree on our front steps.  I thought he was kidding, so I brushed him off.  But yep, the sweetest 3' live tree in its own stand was sitting on our front steps.  I knew right away who had sent it. 

I texted Catherine to confirm that she was my Secret Santa and got this reply.

"LOL what tree?!? The lights will come on Wednesday and little red and gold ornaments on Thursday so you don't have to go digging around for anything.  Easy peasy! I want you to feel the Christmas spirit and know that you are loved and appreciated."

Such kindness. Such amazing humanity. Such love and friendship.  I cried tears of appreciation. This was truly one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. Catherine, thank you for making Christmas brighter and happier. It's amazing how this tree has shifted my mood.  I smile every time I look at it.

Penny loves the tree too and we had so much fun putting the decorations on it.  It's just her size!

Throughout my cancer journey, I've received so many acts of kindness that have deeply touched me.
Between meals, treats, flowers, calls, texts cards, surprise gifts, and rides to Dana Farber, the support I've received has made my cancer journey a whole lot easier to tolerate. It's also reminded me about how the little things can truly brighten up someone's day and make a difference in their life. I try to do good deeds for others, but now I want to step it up a notch and pay it forward.  Being on the receiving end (which isn't easy for me!) has taught me a lot.  

To Catherine and everyone who has touched my life and heart with kindness and love, THANK YOU.
Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy, and joyous holiday season.

With love,

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