Posts tagged ‘Christmas tree’

I Decided Not to Get a Tree This Year

Christmas is easier when you’re a kid. Naughty and nice is pretty uncomplicated. The fondest desires of your heart fit in a short letter. Reindeer can fly. And, after your Dad purchases, carries, and puts up the tree, you hang ornaments on it.

As an adult, Christmas can be a bit more complicated. There’s a whole lot of extra stuff to do in December—in addition to getting through a month with a balanced bank account, food in the ‘fridge, and pants on whenever you leave the house.

It’s not that grown-ups dislike Christmas. It’s just that, as you get older, you gain a better understanding of the villainous perspective. In the midst of shopping, baking, greeting cards, get-togethers, grab bag coordination, extreme calendar juggling, extension cord quests, and multiple runs to the state store, it’s possible to see a certain allure to the idea of tossing it all off Mt. Crumpit.

For me, when all else fails, Christmas comes when I’m decorating the tree. It’s the first time I play Christmas carols, the perfect soundtrack for reviewing ornaments. Little balls of time travel wrapped in tissue. I smile. I tear up. I handle bits of molded plastic as if they were Faberge eggs. It’s about the only time I sing something besides Happy Birthday. And it sometimes leads to dancing.

Putting up the tree is the most Christmasy thing I know. It’s more Christmasy than Christmas Day. It’s more moving than a church service. It’s transformative. It’s peaceful. It’s magic.

If that kid from Polar Express came in and shook the bell while I was decorating my tree, I would absolutely hear it jingle.

So, it may come as a surprise to hear that, this year, I decided not to get a tree. It seemed the sane thing. I was feeling overwhelmed. I was running out of time. And, it’s silly really, for me to go through all of that effort when, most years, I’m the only one who even sees my tree. (Really, who would even know if I decided to not get a tree?)

And, so, last week, being a mature adult who knows how to prioritize and get things done, I decided not to get a tree. And I felt relieved. And kind of sad.

And I told a good friend, “I’m not getting a tree.” And then, a bit surprised and a little annoyed, I heard myself add, “Well, maybe. I’m not sure. I might get a tree.”

And I decided to get a tree.

Then I wrenched my knee. There was no way I’d be able to get up and down the attic steps 432 times, let alone drag and lift a tree into the stand. And, so, last week, I decided not to get a tree. And I felt relieved. And kind of sad. And kind of old.

Then I heard my nephew was coming for a visit, and I knew:  I have to have a tree! But the week got crazy. And windows of opportunity kept slipping shut. And, all of the sudden, the debate was over. Time was up. I was kind of stunned, really, but, at that point, I could allow that it wasn’t my decision. There simply wasn’t time left.

And so, yesterday, I sadly, glumly, sullenly, horribly, despairingly, finally decided that I would not get a tree this year.

I left the house with a pretty long to-do list. By late in the day, I had finished off the Christmas shopping, stocking stuffers included, and met a friend for lunch. The packages that had to be mailed were at the Post Office. Groceries for cookie baking and various get-togethers were in the trunk. All I had left to do was deposit checks, which I had been carrying around in my purse — endorsed! — for weeks. Walking into that bank felt like breaking the tape at the end of a very long marathon. Not that I have any idea what running a marathon actually feels like, but I was feeling like I might just make it through the holidays. I felt very grown-up and responsible and on top of things. I slipped the checks — which would cover the mortgage, car, lights, etc. — to the teller. She said, “Okay, you’re all set to deposit. Do you want anything back?” The answer was No.

But, then. I decided to get a tree.

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Good luck, everyone. I hope you find your own life-preserving moment when it all comes back to you.

December 20, 2014 at 2:23 pm 2 comments

Happy Tree Day

Yesterday was Christmas Tree Day at my house. Probably my favorite part of the holiday season. In honor of this sacred, beautiful, annual life-preserving, and often ornery rizzle-fratzen ritual, a few tips:

1. First thing, don’t think about the price. Just take a deep breath, put a wad of cash in your wallet for a tree, and think no more of it.

2.  Inspect the tree’s trunk, top to bottom. Avoid those with a big bend.

3. If you can clearly see the tree’s trunk, top to bottom, to know for certain if there is a bend or split or other oddity, look for another tree that has more branches and cross your fingers about straightness.

4. You will never find a perfect tree but you will always find a perfect tree. This is a rule of Christmas magic and ornament camouflage. (So, you know, just pick a tree, any tree. It’ll be okay.)

5. Conversely—and critically—not every tree stand is a beautiful thing. No matter how much effort, patience, sweat, or cuss words you put into it, there is, and I cannot emphasize this enough, no single thing more important to maintaining the joy of Tree Day than your choice of Christmas tree stand. With 40-plus years of experience in this matter, which include (1) all the years of watching my Dad’s legs sticking out from under the tree as he patiently turned those three stupid screws with the rest of us shouting contradictory directions from strategic vantage points around the living room; (2) the year the tree fell on me, muting my happy caroling, squashing my naivete, and suffocating the joy of my first tree in my first apartment, which kept falling until I managed to rig it with a nearby wire hanger and my belt to hold the goddamn thing upright; and (3) the years I had my first gadget stand, which required an engineering degree, four hands, the strength of a long-haired Samson, a screw driver, a mallet, plus some fishing line nailed to the wall just in case, I completely and enthusiastically, yes, fanatically, recommend the Krinner Click Fix Tree Stand.  Seriously. Your tree will be up, straight, and solidly standing without loss of blood or goodwill in about 15 seconds. No lie.

6. Christmas carols on the stereo are the perfect accompaniment for tree decorating. It is often the first time I will listen to these annual spirit soaring tunes. I recommend you get the potentially annoying stuff (stand, lights, and 104 trips to the sink for water) out of the way before you hit play.

7. Trees look smaller and shorter in the outdoors. Keep in mind that it is highly unlikely that your own height has changed since you left your house.

8. Tip the Tree Guy. Yes, the tree purchase is a very fleeting connection with a total stranger, and, despite tip #1, you just paid for the tree, so that price may be niggling at your brain a bit, but tip the Tree Guy. I don’t know if this is expected or common practice, but it’s what my Dad taught me. And, I love the Tree Guys. No matter what this person is like elsewhere, when helping me get my tree, he is chivalrous and strong. And his smile and handshake and friendliness in the purchase decision are sincere. If a Tree Guy, while on one knee, in the mud, connecting that bungee cord under the bumper of my car, looked up and proposed to me, I would say yes. (But, you know, I’m guessing he’d rather have the tip.)

9. I recommend that you buy a tree bag when you get the tree. Most tree places have them at the cash register area. They’ll help dramatically minimize needles on the floor and make it a lot easier to remove the tree when the holidays are over.

10. I recommend that you remember to position the tree bag under the tree before you do all the decorating.

 So, have faith, have patience, have a sense of humor, and have a Happy Tree Day.

 And, to those special few who celebrate it, today I also wish you Happy Alexmas! Happy Birthday, buddy.

December 12, 2010 at 6:11 am 3 comments


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