Monday, December 12, 2011

Oh, Tannenbaum!

Last year we had a little problem with our cats, who were 3 months new to the house at the time.  I put up the tree.  They climbed it and crushed it.  No one little cat could have done all of that damage.  All three had to have been involved simultaneously.  The big tree went back into its box and back into the attic.  A HEAVY patio table entered the living room and a 4 foot tree was gaffer taped to it so as not to fall over should a kitten investigate...

Our first few Christmases together were as boyfriend and girlfriend and The Bearded One (yes, he was bearded, even then - if he wanted to leave without a trace, all he would need to do is to shave) was more than willing to indulge my Christmas silliness by driving to tree farms all over Southeast Michigan looking for a tree to cut.  After our marriage and a neighbor's disastrous Christmas Tree related apartment fire, we went artificial.  It didn't really feel right, but we were doing our bit to keep our neighbors safe during the holiday season.

Then we bought our first house (six years later).  On our first Christmas in the house, I came home from an evening shift to find a gorgeous LARGE Christmas tree in the dining area of the living room.  We had double high ceilings and the tree filled every inch of space allotted to it.  It was absolutely lovely.  The next year another tree appeared, this time a balsam that you could smell practically from the garage.  When the holiday was over the balsam was stripped of it's lights and ornaments and lugged to the curb for collection.  Leaving every single solitary needle in our white shag carpet (yes, we are that old).

Every time that we ran the vacuum that year, the scent of balsam permeated the entire house.  It got so that we hated the smell.  The following Thanksgiving, instead of travelling to visit family, we chose to stay home and paint the living room during the four day weekend.  Every time that one or the other of us stepped off of a ladder, we received balsam needles in the sole of the foot.  After the fourth or fifth time, The Bearded One firmly stated, "That does it, no move live, dead trees!"  I was in total agreement.

We hied ourselves off to the nearest nursery and decoration shop where we picked the biggest, fullest artificial tree that we could find.  It served us for many years.  When we moved to California (20 years ago), it quickly became evident that the tall, full, gorgeous tree was WAY too big for our new living room.  Off it went to charity and we found a "slim" tree that would better fit the available space.  In the interval between huge tree #1 and slim tree #2, quality was way down and prices were way up.  But it seemed that artificial was still the way to go as in Southern California, "fresh" trees were cut months ago and are dry as all heck.  There really isn't anywhere close by where you can go and cut your own tree on a lot so that you actually know the date on which it parted from its stump.  And even then, you don't know how much watering was done throughout the year.  Many years and many trees later, each one lasting just a few years less than the one that came before and costing just a few dollars more than its predecessor, we have a tree that is partially crushed and with lights on top that will  not come on. " Let's go buy a new tree," says The Bearded One.  "Yeah, there was this really great one with pine cones and snow at Home Depot!" says Ms. Flippers.  "Yeah, that one was awesome,!" says Stubble.

Except that tree is almost $300.  And there is tuition to pay and books to buy and cars to repair.

I decide that we will get ONE more year out of the old tree.  The Bearded One purchases a small string of 20 lights that we will use at the darkened top of the tree.  And while I am just beginning to string the new lights, a miracle occurs...the lights at the top of the old tree come on again.

I have The Bearded One bend the crushed branches back into place.  The tree is fluffed, decorated, and has one cat hiding under the tree skirt and another snoozing at the back of the tree, looking angelic with colored lights making patterns on the white parts of his fur.  The tree is, I think, happy to serve us for another year.  Or maybe two.

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