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Christmas Trees 101

Why buy an artificial tree that you can set up in 30 minutes when you can, instead, give your family the unparalleled joy of the trip to pick out the Christmas tree?

Picking out a Christmas tree isn’t as hard as you might think. In fact, at our house we have this thing down to a science. Upon arrival at our favorite nursery we pick out the tree in record time. Pick it up, twirl it around, say “yes” or “no” and move on ‘til you find the perfect one. Easy. 

When we get home the first thing, of course is to get the tree inside. My husband Paul, who is very thorough, has attached the tree so firmly to the top of our car that it takes 30 minutes and a Houdini handbook to untie it. 

Once that’s accomplished I immediately put the Christmas tree on drugs. Placing the trunk in a bath of warm water infused with high doses of sugar and aspirin, I hope that the tree will take kindly to its new environment; i.e. not inundate our carpet with pounds of pine needles on Day No. 3.

After at least half a day in the luxury water bath, it’s into the tree stand (not my job), into the house with minimal damage (not my job) and on with the lights (my job). How do I always get stuck doing this? We get out the boxes of lights, check to see if they work by placing them every which way across our family room floor, making it look like a deadly design for an airport runway and when the lights are proclaimed “good to go” I look around and find myself alone, listening only to the sound of crickets. Deserters.

It’s lonely at the top; which is where I start with the lights. First, on the inside of the tree I like to place some very old actual “twinkling lights” that I grew up with. I love them but I also consider the fact that an electrical appliance of that age might not be safe. If I’m not careful I could be Harking the Herald somewhere a little farther from home than I banked on. 

My greatest fear is that I’ll lose my footing, spin around, be entwined in many twinkling lights like a spider’s prey, and find myself hanging upside down from the top of the tree. Hopefully my head will reach down far enough that I’m able to lap some water from the tree stand until someone finds me. 

Somehow or other, I manage to get all the lights onto the tree and live to tell about it. When the others slink back around, full of guilt I hope, it’s time for the fun of hanging the ornaments. I’m unable to be of much help with this part as my hands are bandaged as a result of multiple pine needle stabs and my head is aching from my recently avoided electro-shock therapy. 

But I find it fun to sit sullenly with a cup of hot chocolate and give helpful directions like “that ornament is too big for that spot” or “there’s a huge gap next to the candy cane reindeer” and “no way you can put that pink ball next to a red one - what are you thinking?”; helpful to a fault. 

Hope your holidays are merry and bright and that you have as much fun decorating as we do!

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