We must all hang together

It wouldn’t seem right to skip my annual report on putting up the Christmas tree. We were a little later than usual putting ours up this year. The boys forgot to nag about it for a little while which allowed the parental holiday sloth to take over.

Eventually the boys realized there was some hulking monstrosity missing from our already crowded living room. The sloth was chased from the house, but the parent host was made to stay and drag all his tubs of festive cheer up from the basement.

We have an artificial tree (the sloth’s legacy), which the boys were eager to assemble. You don’t get that kind of quasi-LEGO experience with a real tree, no sir. On the other hand, a real tree doesn’t require the dreaded chores of spreading wire branches and fluffing Mylar needles. It’s a Yuletide tradeoff.

Hanging together.

After the first minute of branch-fluffing, I noticed Big Brother and Buster had disappeared. Big Man was still invested though. He helped me test the lights, and gave me tons of helpful advice about where I should run each strand. I was switching the TV back and forth between a basketball game and a football game, and trying to finish cooking a stew in the other room, so he certainly put more thought into running the lights than I did. One way or another, they got on the tree.

The football game was coming down to the wire, so I corralled Big Brother and Buster and made them help Big Man hang ornaments while I let myself become distracted. There was an indirect correlation between the height of the decorator and his enthusiasm for the job, which is why the bottom of the tree is more densely populated than the top.

We have a number of TV character ornaments. Big Man found two from the same cartoon. “I have to hang these two next to each other, because they’re friends,” he told me. I couldn’t argue with that. Besides, I gave up arguing with children about the proper ornament disbursement years ago. Joyful little hands always make a more beautiful tree than cold geometry does. Sure enough, Finn and Jake ended up dangling from the same branch. Friends should always hang together.

Finn and Jake always hang together. It’s what friends do.

Later I noticed Rudolph, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius, Hermey, and the Abominable Snowman hung in a group. So were Homer, Bart, Marge and Lisa. Both television casts were on display near the bottom of the tree, leaving no doubt as to who hung family and friends together.

Why are Rudolph and Hermey in such a hurry?

Abominable Snowman is after them!

Big Man may not win any Martha Stewart Christmas Tree decorating awards, but he’s ahead of the game on empathy. I’ll take that over a perfectly balanced tree any day. It’s a good thing.

 

 

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Tree goes up; alcohol consumption goes down

Putting up the Christmas tree with children is inspiring.  In past years, it has inspired the Daddy to raise his voice multiple times, need a scotch break or two in the midst of decorating, and write a post summing up the entire misadventure.

The boys must be getting more mature. This year I could count on two hands the number of times I had to yell at somebody, and I made it through the entire process without an ounce of liquor. I begin to wonder if the event merits a post at all.

Well, it’s part of a tradition, and we’ve already lost the scotch break, so let’s just see if having conscientious helpers for once ruins the whole story.

We have a fake tree, against which I expect the boys to rebel at each new season. This year makes another in which my expectations were wrong. They like the fake tree. Perhaps it’s because the tree needs to be built every year, like a construction set, which may seem like fun to foolish, young people. Also the tree comes out of a rather large box, the likes of which you don’t get to climb into very often.

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When your fake tree gets enough years old, it sheds needles just like a real tree.

Part of me is concerned these boys aren’t clamoring for a real tree. That seems like what boys should do. But that concern is quelled when I think how convenient it is that I can fetch the tree in my slippers. It shouldn’t be surprising children don’t pine for a real tree, considering how much of the world they live in is virtual.

Big Brother helped me assemble the branches of the tree. He was more help than hindrance, the first signal of the demise of my traditional scotch break and cooling off period. He helped me test the light strands, only neglecting his duties long enough to check in with the game he was playing on the computer.

Buster and Big Man helped with the lights too, this year with the understanding that the main purpose of the strings was not to be used in a tug-of-war. Another nail had been struck into the coffin of my period of scotch and deep breather exercises.

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Working together in harmony, mostly.

Once the lights were up, the boys hit the ornaments with gusto. Only this year they kind of, almost, sort of, nearly worked together as a team. Big Brother handed the others hooks from the tangled, rat’s nest wad of wire, they selected their ornaments and hung them all in a three-branch radius at the bottom third of the tree. Big Brother picked up the slack higher up the tree, and I, barely necessary any longer, placed one or two bulbs at the very top.

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A very popular, and easy to reach, spot for ornaments.

Last came the garland. Buster and Big Brother were eager helpers, overcoming their instincts to strangle the tree in a shiny, boa necklace with minimal intervention.

And just like that it was finished. They’d made a delightful tree. I’d needed neither alcohol nor soothing meditation. What’s become of this world?