In my house, getting a Christmas tree is akin to marriage’s version of an extreme sport. It sounds like it will be fun until something goes wrong – the parachute doesn’t open or the bungee cord snaps — and you wind up cursing and blaming each other over a pile of twigs that used to be your Christmas tree while your kids sit there crying.
OK, it’s never been that bad…yet. But, we’ve come close a few times. Take this year. Unbeknownst to me, last year my husband threw away our awesome and easy to use Christmas tree stand. (OK, it was beknownst – I just forgot that I beknowed.) So the morning we planned to get our tree, I went to three different stores looking for the same type of awesome, easy to use Christmas tree stand that my husband threw away. Did I mention that my husband threw this away? Yeah, he said it was because of toxic mold or something growing in it, but how long do we keep it up? A month, at best. We could have probably lived with a little wheezing if it meant having a perfectly straight, easy to put up tree. Regardless, this particular type of stand was nowhere to be found (except online, where it sold for over $100 – when it was in stock, which it wasn’t). I had to make do with a crappy plastic stand, which my husband then proceeded to override in favor of the crappy plastic version being sold where we bought our Christmas tree. Only to discover that it was filthy and infested with spiders when we brought it home.
After giving our new Christmas tree stand the equivalent of a Silkwood shower, we then proceed to try to put said tree into stand. Despite the fact that the tree guys SUPPOSEDLY used it to gauge how many branches to cut off the bottom, guess what? The tree wouldn’t fit because not enough branches were cut off. In any other house this might not have presented a problem. However, my husband and I are the two least handy people in America. Our tool kit consists of a hammer and…yeah…a hammer. As a result, we had to resort to the bread knife. Not just any bread knife, mind you. This bread knife has a history of cutting down Christmas trees (or, at least Christmas tree branches), dating back almost twenty years to when my then roommate and I bought a Christmas tree only to discover that it couldn’t fit in the stand and we therefore needed to hack away at some branches with…the bread knife. I’m nothing if not a traditionalist.
As you can imagine, a bread knife going through a tree is not the most productive, nor cleanest way to accomplish such a task. After the tree massacre, we tried to put the tree in the new (and newly cleaned) stand. “It’s not in the center of the stand,” my husband said with authority, despite the fact that he was standing up, holding the tree while I was the one crouched underneath the branches trying to tighten the screws. Throughout the process, I was nothing, if not, a complete bitch. “This wouldn’t have happened if we had last years stand,” I muttered under my breath. “YOU AGREED TO THROW IT OUT!” was my husband’s patient retort. “Hmm, yeah, I don’t recall that, but whatever you say,” I replied passive-aggressively. By the time we finally got the tree in the stand, relatively straight (and centered), the living room rug looked much like a forest. My kids wanted to put up a tent and pretend they were spending the night in the woods. So when a friend texted me to ask if the kids wanted to come and play, I used that as an excuse to escape. “I have to bring the kids to so and so’s house! I’ll be right back!” I screamed, and ran out the door before I could be stopped. It’s a good thing my kids are fast, or they would have been left at home.
I stayed at my friend’s house for an hour, drinking tea, complaining and selfishly hiding from the mess that I knew awaited me. Eventually I made my way back home to find that my husband had cleaned up the whole thing. The branches were in bags in the garage and I could see my living room floor again. “Thanks,” I said. And it was genuine. I was thankful that my husband gave up the idea of having a fake tree like the one he grew up with to indulge my passion for a real one. Thankful that he generally enjoys the process of getting ready for the holidays instead of just going through the motion for the kid’s sake. Thankful that he cleaned up the awful mess by himself while I was hiding and didn’t even make me feel bad about it. As he finished the last of the clean up, I sheepishly wandered over to the tree, lights in hand, and started doing my part. “Wait!” he said. “We need some Christmas music.” Then he got his guitar and started playing Christmas carols while I decorated the tree with lights and ribbons.
We saved the rest of the decorations for after the kids came home, which is another blog post entirely. How, at some point, you need to let go of your elegant tree and let your kids hang stuff – how they want and where they want, resulting in a tree that has two branches holding the total sum of all of your ornaments. But, in the end, while it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t bungee jumping gone wrong either. It’s like our sled hit a bump and we flew for a while, not knowing whether we’d crash. But we landed. And although we may have hit a bump or two, we end up flying down the hill laughing the rest of the way.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog.