Some people enjoy decorating Christmas trees. I hit the peak fun of putting up the tree at about age 7. Then the ‘been there, done that’ vibe took over. I enjoy having a tree, but I’m not so keen on decorating it, especially with the tedious chore of un-decorating it looming short weeks away.
My wife could do without a tree altogether. It seems she carries some childhood hang-up about bringing ‘nature’ indoors. Even bound tight with strands of electric lights, a tree brings her too close to the horrifying concept of camping. Five years ago she convinced me to buy an artificial tree ‘for emergencies.’ We’ve had a tree emergency every year since.
That’s not all her fault. I don’t miss the days of lashing shrubbery to top of the car and digging pine needles out of my socks. Until the boys complain about our lazy Christmas spirit, we’ll continue falling back on the emergency tree. Which brings us to another Christmas tree emergency:
Putting up a tree with boys of 7, 3, and 1 is a special brand of adventure. Forgive me in advance; I can’t do it justice.
Christmas tree lights are mostly made in China nowadays, which explains their sturdy construction. A strand of raw eggs would be more durable. As I unwind the strands, Big Man drags them, without regard for their precarious filaments, to the most convenient outlet, because plugging cords in and turning lights on are his greatest pleasures. No matter that he killed half the bulbs winding them around table legs on his journey.
Buster tries to help, grabbing the opposite end of the strand and attempting to yank it away from his careless little brother. The strands work better for tug-of-wars than for lighting trees.
Big Brother helps me swap out bulbs to make complete, working strands. I tell him what color I want and he hands me a bulb. We make another complete strand and are about ready to start putting them up when I realize he hasn’t salvaged the remaining good lights from the half-dead strand. He cannibalized a complete strand I just made to provide me bulbs.
Meanwhile, Big Man and Buster want to tangle all the strands into a web.
I begin yelling, but a Christmas Angel stops me. The Spirit persuades me it would be more in keeping with the Season to pour myself a scotch. I always listen to Holy advice.
Somehow, we get the lights up. The boys attack the ornaments with a will, each eager to throw as many up as he can before they run out. Shiny things are hung two and three to a branch in the fervor. I let them run wild. I’ll spread the ornaments out later.
No, I won’t. Maybe it’s the bright light of Christmas in their eyes or maybe it’s the warm glaze of scotch in mine, but I realize this is their tree now. I’ll leave it just as they made it.