We had gotten the kids all pumped-up about a whole Saturday last month to do the traditional Christmas decorating, post-Turkey-Day. We were going to set out into the Colorado forest and hack down our own tree, since three years ago when we did that it proved such a joyful experience– complete with all three kids crying, the baby falling in the snow, Matt forgetting the rope to tie the tree to the car, and the tree that took actually a lot of effort to cut down ending up all Charlie-Brown-pathetic-looking.
But, sadly (thankfully?), when we went to get the permit for the tree that Saturday we found that they weren’t selling them until the following week.
And now, at Walmart, especially early in the season, they don’t believe in fostering the experience of picking that perfect family Christmas tree. You know that entire selection process where you walk around the tree and envision its shape in your home and check for random branches or holey spots? Yeah, that’s out the window for the convenience of slapping down the standard $34 bucks and hauling the thing on top of your car in a record 6 minutes flat. You couldn’t even see the thing unbound from the twine, making all those frasier firs actually look a little bit like palm trees, all skinny the whole way up.
So there we are, all five of us, dressed like we’re about to embark on a hike through the Rocky Mountain forest, sans the saw that now would sadly not be put to use, walking around the cement lot, choosing a tree based on height alone. You could say it was the grab-bag-tree experience, which in many ways I’d say is less than, but did get the task accomplished in less than ten minutes and with no tears or babies falling in the snow.
An hour later, we haul that thing inside. It’s all crooked in the tree stand and we’ve had to move half the furniture around in some odd concoction that will force visitors for the next month to catapult couches to get to the bathroom, but the kids are excited about the climactic moment where twine is snapped and we get to see the beauty that it must surely be. Our experience at Walmart is that they never sell crap, after all.
So, the string is cut, and immediately I have flashbacks of Chevy Chase and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Those branches boing out and what emerges is more giant-bush than shapely frasier fir.
The thing was fat and round and literally took up half the living room.
No matter, it’s Christmas, and the last 9 years of our marriage (which might just be a correlation to when we first had children) our trees have always looked pretty terrible. I’m afraid you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to call us classy– Number One: I’m not good at decorating. And Two: We have random ornaments. And Number Three: We actually let the kids help us. And then Four: At least half our lights don’t work because we threw them in the box in a tangled wad the year before with a shameless lack of stewardship.
This year was no exception. Use your imagination.
But despite it all, we enjoyed that bush- tree, as much as possible. And since we are traveling to North Carolina to visit family (tomorrow!), we had Fake-Christmas last weekend. We did Fake-Christmas Eve with the Christmas story and fondue and stockings, then Fake-Christmas-Morning with gifts and monkey bread for breakfast. And by last Sunday, our tree-bush was dropping needles like some kind of sad commentary on how many months ago it had actually been harvested. Apparently, Walmart trees are not the freshest trees on the lot.
And, so, the week before Christmas, knowing that our week would be wild with school programs and work meetings, I declared Christmas-decorations over until we got to North Carolina. And in an hour flat, we had the ornaments off, the stockings in boxes, and the wreath off the door. And then, the argument began.
Because Matt generally has a hatred of Christmas lights and especially the process of untangling them from a dry and surprisingly-pokey tree. He starts hauling the tree out to the back door, with the Christmas lights still on it. And, being the spendthrift that I am, I reminded him that it’s actually wasteful to
throw the lights out with the tree.
But, the man doesn’t care, so frustrated is he with the whole mammoth-dying-tree-bush. And while he’s promising me he’ll buy strands for three dollars on sale after Christmas to replace them, we run into yet another problem with our Walmart beauty.
We had gotten the tree in the house all wrapped up in rope. And now that it was in its full glory, the thing wouldn’t fit through the door, try to shove as he might, with the glass door all shaky and threatening to bust.
And, so . . . . the next 15 minutes was spent in fishing the saw out of the car, finally called into action as it was, and hacking off about a third of the lower branches, right there beside the kitchen table.
At this point, it was a shop-vac-kind of job to get the needles up from the carpet, and Matt was so frustrated by finally wrestling the thing out the door that he just chucked it in the backyard.
Lights and all.
And, so, there she sits. Our Walmart bush. With two strands of lights. Dry as anything, and probably still a fire hazard in the backyard until we get back from our trip East.
Like I said, we are real classy around Christmastime.
How about you? What kind of tree do you have? And what decorating/holiday mishaps have you had of late? How’s the season of crazy treating you?