Tradition states that when Santa makes his way in Herald Square during the Macy’s Day parade, the Christmas season has arrived. In our family, this signals the time to put away the pumpkins and start trimming the tree.
Every Friday after Thanksgiving , we took a long weekend to visit the NC mountains for our annual Christmas tree hunt. Each year brought different friends or family, but we always rented a log cabin and went to the same Christmas tree farm. Bundled up in blankets , we huddled into the hayride that drove up the winding paths into the farm…families sitting side by side, sometimes singing Christmas carols and drinking hot apple cider, while taking in the 360 -degree mountainous view.
At the appointed destination , we hopped out in excitement to locate and cut down the family tree. We trekked through a maze of Frazier firs until “ The One “ appeared. My mother and I paralleled “ Clark Griswold’s” passion for Christmas trees. We usually fell in love with one of the largest trees on the farm, only to have my husband burst our illogical bubble that a 12- ft tree could not possibly fit a home with 9-ft ceilings. What a Debbie Downer! Where there’s a will there’s a way , right? After selecting the perfect tree( with in the correct parameters), we packed up for home ,to decorate!
This is when the serene picture I just painted comes to a screeching halt. Oh, there is Christmas music playing in the background for ambiance, but the frustration, arguing and cursing seems to drown out the feeble attempt at ambiance.
First , my husband has to cut the bottom of the tree to make sure it is the proper height and then drill a hole into the stump dead center for the tree stand. Over the years he has improved in accuracy. The frustration starts when we realize the drill has not been charged – again.
Every year “someone” forgets to charge the drill and the whole process gets put on hold . Next comes propping the cumbersome decoration up on its stand.
“ God, this is heavy!” I say , as I always forget how weighty trees are.
“You picked it out. You had to have the largest freaking tree.” my husband reminds me every year.
“ Wait…it looks crooked.”
“Move it to left.”
“ I am.”
“ Your other left, swe-etie”
“Ugh, there’s sap all over my hand.”
“ You know artificial trees, don’t have that problem.”
“ But artificial trees don’t have the Christmassy smell.”
“ There’s a candle for that. Its not sticky and it doesn’t shed needles either.”
We stand back to look at the tree – and see it “smushed” into the ceiling .
“ Honey, you didn’t cut enough off the bottom, again.” I complain.
“ You know, the ceiling height doesn’t change from year to year. Maybe if you would pick the same height tree -say ,one compatible with a 9- ft ceiling -I wouldn’t have to cut the bottom.”
Once the tree is the proper height and standing tall, its time to put on the lights. My husband and I can agree that lights are our least favorite decoration to put up. I shouldn’t say “least favorite” because we really loathe the arduous task of stringing up 5 sets of lights on a large Christmas tree. Every year it starts out the same. My husband will tell me he is too tired from cutting, drilling and doing the majority of the heavy lifting and plans to bow out of putting on the lights . He will “supervise“, he says. I tell him that I understand that he is tired. However, standing 5- feet -short on a good day, I am pretty worthless getting lights onto the top of the tree. He then proceeds to get me a step ladder, which is all well and good, but I remind him of my Tyrannosaurus Rex length arms , making the task still impossible . He concedes to help get the lights on the top, but then I’m on my own.
When the top is done, he retreats to the couch to “supervise” his elf of a wife, go solo on light- duty. It takes maybe 5 minutes before I hear I have placed the strands too close together, or missed a “hole” .“ Can you see what you are doing?’ He then gets up off the couch to take over , because my strategy is not pleasing to the eye.
After every strand has been strung and we are both satisfied with the job, we flip the switch. We stand back to take in the hundreds of twinkling lights. The beautiful tree brings an instant peace over our bickering. Its Christmas magic!
With arms wrapped around each other, we sit on our couch, and begin to hear the Christmas music. We smile at our dazzling tree, knowing that the lights are done and decorating can begin.
“It may be a pain , but it really is a great tree.” my husband admits
“ Yeah. Thanks for making it a beautiful tree.” I say ,laying my head on his shoulder.
As Bing Crosby sings in the background, one strand begins to blink.
Fa La La la la..La La La La!