Have you ever been obsessed with something? It’s both exciting and terrible. Suddenly, it seems, the meaning of your life is completely clear. You understand why you were put on this Earth, at this time, in this way. But all of this clarity can be overwhelming. Isolating. How can you connect and be present in the lovely, inane day-to-day moments when you have a higher purpose? For Rob Lowe, this higher purpose is watering his Christmas tree with 7 Up.
“I have an obsession,” Lowe admitted during an appearance on The Ellen Degeneres Show this week. Usually, he isn’t really “involved in the house,” the actor said, explaining that the home is his wife’s domain. But when it comes to the Christmas tree, he is not only involved, he is fixated. Why this? Why is he obsessed with the tree instead of, say, doing the dishes, or learning how to knit? Like so many obsessions, Lowe’s is colored by fear.
“I have a phobia about the pine needles, they get all brittle and fall and then they’re just going to be flammable,” he said.
And so, driven by fear, Lowe becomes a man possessed, not only by the tree itself, but by his formula for keeping the tree hydrated.
“It’s half 7 UP, half water. I am obsessed with this. This is all I care about during the holidays,” he said.
(I picture now: Lowe’s family, decked out in Christmas sweaters and waiting to exchange gifts, watching tearfully as Lowe leaves them to water down another jug of 7 Up. “Dad, I have a gift for you,” his son might say. “Not now, I don’t have time,” Lowe would reply tersely, squeezing another two-liter bottle into the already overflowing pantry. “This is all I care about,” he whispers to himself. And just like that, another Lowe Christmas is lost to the pursuit of ever-greener trees.)
Lowe isn’t the first person to experiment with Christmas trees and 7 Up. According to a post on GardensAlive.com from 2004, “some folks feel that the natural lemon-lime flavoring may act as a preservative.”
Does it, though? People reached out to Tim O’Connor, the Executive Director of the National Christmas Tree Association, about Lowe’s formula. O’Connor said: “We recommend just water — what the tree used while it was growing — but if something has been working for someone, we are not against it.”
But an obsession doesn’t need to be based in reality, does it? It’s not about the facts as much as it is about how you feel — alive, awake, certain that only you can keep your Christmas tree from bursting into flames.
Does Rob Lowe know something about Christmas trees that we don’t? Or does he know something about life, about finding your purpose, and the sacrifices you are forced to make when you find that purpose?
Anyway, happy holidays!