We went to Metairie today to get our Christmas tree. It's not like we had a choice.
In years past, there were several places along Carrollton Avenue one could get a tree. This year, those same places are empty and deserted. Some have signs directing people to visit their businesses elsewhere, like Metairie.
In an act of pure faith, I took the family to the newly reopened Lowe's store on Elysian Fields. The place was busy, as busy as you might expect any retailer to be on a Saturday barely two weeks before the big holiday. We saw lots of trucks carting sheetrock, lumber, and roofing shingles.
The only thing we did not see was Christmas trees.
My wife asked a man in a red vest with the company logo pasted on it, "Where are the Christmas trees?"
"We don't have any," he said. "They got 'em at the Metry store."
How strange. Do they think we who live in the damaged city are just going to skip Christmas this year? Do they think we won't use our FEMA and insurance money to get decorations? Do they think all we care about is two-by-fours and linoleum flooring?
If nothing else good came from Katrina, it's at least that we've been reminded that it's the people around us who really matter. We were reminded of this quite forcefully I might add. Family, friends and neighbors matter. Bricks and wallpaper and carpet and walk-in-closets are all just superficial trappings.
So anyone who thinks this disaster is going to usurp or preempt any occasion to celebrate the good people in our lives just has not been paying attention.
We got our Christmas tree today, brought it home and decorated it. I even strung some lights around the door and porch railing out front. We're going to celebrate Christmas, and then we're going to celebrate the New Year, and soon we'll be celebrating Mardi Gras.
Under the circumstances, it is the most natural, most sensible thing we can do.