When I was a child, I remember, my parents would buy a real pine tree and bring it home. Oh, we were so excited! But, as an exercise in patience and endurance, they would leave it resting in the garage, keeping it cool. We walked by that tree every day, wishing and waiting for the day when we got to put it up.
I remember my mother would help my father get the tree in one of the old screw stands–you know, “screw that one in a little further, it leans to the right” and then, for added fun, she would make us leave it another day so that it could “warm up.” I didn’t want it to warm up, I wanted to put stuff on it! Eventually, eventually, we got to decorate that tree and it smelled terrific and it looked even better! We kept it watered, enjoyed the ambiance and swept up all the dead needles when Christmas was over.
I never knew how much I enjoyed those days until I came to the modern Christmas tree. I remember being shocked because I saw someone had a silver aluminum tree. There were no lights on it…just a revolving light on the floor that turned it various colors. I vowed on that very day that I would never have a fake Christmas tree. Even when they started coming out with passable green ones that allowed lights and decorating, I was still determined. No artificial tree for me.
My resolve began to weaken as the years went on and I had to wait longer than anyone else to put up my tree because it was live and then when it was over, I was reduced to getting down into the carpet and picking out those sticky, dried-up needles that had adhered themselves so much to my carpet that even the shop vac would not get them. My bare feet, though, they picked up dry, prickly needles nicely!
Okay, so I pulled the last of the razor sharp needles out of my feet and went shopping for a “fake” tree. There were masses of them. I finally managed to choose one and, avoiding the clerk’s suggestion that I buy some fake pine smell to spray over the fake tree plastic smell, I headed home.
Now, I have always regarded the tree stand as the ultimate test of our holiday spirit. If you can get those little screws into the base of the tree so that it stands up reasonably straight and you can still smile, you pass the test. However, if you can get those plastic wedge things properly seated in the grooves provided on a fake tree and not wish to hit the inventor of those tree stands in the head with a hammer, well, you’ve more Christmas spirit than me! Either way, the chances of the tree taking a header after it’s fully decorated because the stand gives out are very high. Some people have a drunk uncle who runs into the tree and knocks it over. The rest of us have an unstable tree stand!
Just getting the fake tree upright is quite a chore, but once you’ve done so, there is still more to do. Unlike the real tree which must be “warmed up,” the fake tree instead must have its branches “fluffed”. You see, a fake tree has been smooshed into a box with all of its little green wire branches adhered to the main branch so tightly that the whole thing resembles a fat marching baton. You must artfully bend and move and “fluff” these branches until they look like “real” branches.
Decorating has never been a problem for me. I slap on the lights and always secretly wonder what led the early proponents of the Christmas tree to put lit candles on a dead tree, but I am grateful things have evolved since then. I love bulbs and all manner of interesting ornaments. I know of a woman who used to put the same color and style bulbs only on her tree and she measured with a tape measure to make sure they were exactly placed. This is not me! I put the darn things on willy-nilly and usually spent the rest of the holiday rearranging them as I notice where I may have left “blank spots.”
My mother was a big fan of tinsel, those little silver strands that cling to more things than glitter. She made us put them on one at a time and take them off the same way. It was years before I realized that some people just throw bunches of it on the tree in random fashion. This seemed sacrilegious to me considering my upbringing so in the end I solved the problem by not putting tinsel on my tree. I prefer festive garlands that never fit over the whole tree and always stop at awkward points in the tree’s decor. It looks like the tree was getting dressed, but got caught trying to fit it over their ample middle and therefore, ran out of garland!
Nonetheless, my tree is now up, the stand is in place, the plastic smell has been disguised, and the branches are all fluffed. The decorations are in place…at least for now. I sat down with a sigh of relief and then I made my fatal mistake. I asked my husband what he thought.
“Well, the top branch is bent awkwardly because your lighted star is too heavy, part of your string of lights is not working over on this side–you should have checked that before you put them up–and the cat is currently sitting about a third of the way up on that branch over there that is sagging under her weight. However, beyond that, it almost looks like a real Christmas tree.”
If I was speaking to him after that, I’d have told him it IS a real Christmas tree. Ho, Ho, Ho!
One response to “Rockin’ round the Christmas Tree”
Putting up the Christmas tree brings back memories of my childhood. Good post 🙂