O Christmas tree, I’m pining for a simpler way of sprucing up

O Christmas tree, I’m pining for a simpler way of sprucing up

Posted: Friday, December 9, 2011 8:02 pm
By: By CHRIS MENEES, Staff Reporter

O Christmas tree, I’m pining for a simpler way of sprucing up | Chris Menees, Just A Thought, Christmas tree

I can take a hint.
Well, sometimes.
When I come home from work and find the boxes of Christmas decorations have been moved from the attic to the garage, I know it’s my husband’s subtle way of telling me it’s time to put up the tree.
It was inevitable. When I came home two days ago, I had a sign from above. The attic, that is.
There they were — the Christmas boxes, neatly stacked all in a row like cardboard soldiers standing at attention.
We have a system. My husband gets down the boxes, I put up the tree. After Christmas, I take down the tree, he puts up the boxes. It’s worked for years.
So it’s Dec. 9 and, while visions of sugarplums dance in our heads, there’s nary a tree in sight yet at our house — other than the crude picture of the one on the tree box in the garage.
I know, I know. There are 16 days until Christmas.
But I don’t like the Christmas rush.
You’ve probably already figured out we have an artificial Christmas tree at our house. A fake. A fabricated wiry contraption fashioned something like a big green toilet bowl brush.
And I like it.
It’s pre-lit, which means my beloved and I don’t have to undo endless knots of twisted lights or endure the pain of trying to find the one bad bulb that strings us along and keeps all the others from working.
It won’t dry out, which means we won’t feel the sting of any razor-sharp dried pine needles under our bare feet or still be vacuuming the dead remains from the living room carpet come Valentine’s Day.
Before you pass judgment, yes, my husband and I once went the real-tree route; and, no, we won’t ever go down that holiday road again.
One Christmas early in our marriage, we branched out and bought a live tree that could actually be planted in our yard and enjoyed year-round long after the lights and ornaments were retired to the attic.
We carefully chose an evergreen with its roots wrapped securely in burlap and I still recall our excitement as we heaved and ho-ho-ho’d the tree, dirt and all, up the back steps toward its new home in our living room. It was lovingly decorated and we admired its beauty for days before the time came to return it to the great outdoors.
There was one thing nobody bothered to tell us. When you water a living tree for days on end and the balled-up roots take on water, it gets heavy. Really heavy.
Our giddiness turned to grief when we realized the waterlogged post-Christmas tree weighed about five times more than the thirsty pre-Christmas tree. We were less than jolly as we dragged the monstrosity through the house and wrestled it into a hole roughly the size of the Grand Canyon.
Live and learn.
Older and somewhat wiser now, we no longer pine for a real live spruce or balsam. We just whip out the faux fir tree and light the cedar-scented candle for the full effect.
Even though I put off the tree-decorating chore as long as possible, it’s a labor of love that always brings back a flood of happy memories.
For instance, I chuckle when I recall hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree four years ago with the oldest granddaughter, who was 11 then. We were running out of those J-shaped wire-hook hangers when she looked at me and innocently said, “We need some more hookers.”
I have to gasp when I open the box of Barbie-pink ornaments and garlands and reflect on the year we did an over-the-top all-pink tree that honestly looked like a bottle of Pepto-Bismol had exploded on our pretend pine.
I can’t help but smile when I see the primitive brightly-painted dough ornaments and remember the tiny hands that tenderly created them so many years ago.
I get misty-eyed when I look at all of the dated ornaments, some with photos, heralding family milestones like “our first Christmas together” or “baby’s first Christmas.”
And I have to remember the real reason for the season when I find just the perfect spot to hang the manger and baby Jesus ornaments.
Real tree or fake tree? In the end, it doesn’t really matter — as long as we remember to keep Christ in Christmas.
Now, please excuse me. I have some sprucing up to do.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 12.9.11

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