Loneliness is an epidemic, and people are desperate for any small gesture that alleviates the feeling of isolation that overwhelms everyone from YouTubers to urbanites in their twenties. This holiday season, one neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio, staved off that crushing alienation by banding together to transform an abnormally large weed into an abnormally small Christmas tree. Yep, it's just like A Charlie Brown Christmas IRL, and it's wonderful.
Locals spontaneously decorated a scrappy plant growing out of a crack in the sidewalk with tinsel, lights, a red and white tree skirt, and a model train over the course of a couple weeks, local Fox affiliate WTOL reports. The whole thing apparently started with Troy Emerick, who noticed what people are now calling "The Christmas Weed" on a traffic island between a Little Caesar's and a Walgreens. His daughter, Alyssa, a 20-year-old student at the University of Toledo, told Fox, "He saw it going home from church and said, 'That’s a really big weed. We should just decorate that!'”
They wrapped it in tinsel and left. By the following Sunday, the Washington Post reports, there was a Facebook page documenting the shrub's festive evolution—and now Toledo Christmas Weed has more than 9,000 followers and counting.
But alas, as it so often does, the internet quickly managed to ruin this modest example of human decency. The Christmas Weed became popular enough that someone decided it was worth ripping a part of it out of the ground, a heinous crime apparently documented in this video posted by Toledo radio station Q105.5, captioned "bring back our Christmas Weed!" But the spirit of the bedraggled bush returned more powerful than ever when, according to the Post, someone dropped off a dead potted plant to keep it company.
Toledans responded to the Grinch-like vandalism by redoubling their holiday efforts. So many people left gifts and non-perishable goods—which the Toledo Blade reports are being collected and distributed to the needy by city officials—under the remains of the weed that the paper had to warn people to keep them from spilling into the street.
If you think about it, we are all the Christmas Weed—or at least we could be if we wanted to. If two malnourished plants can help feed the homeless of Toledo, anyone is capable of spending a few hours volunteering with a charity, donating food to the needy, or at least remembering to buy all their family members gifts for the holidays—like, for instance, some Christmas weed.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.