Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Horizontal Conifer

As averse as I am to being force-fed Thanksgiving turkey rules, I am adamant about having a really big, really real Christmas tree. I may have to buy water, firewood, and perhaps some day even buy air, but dangitall I gotta have a 15 foot tall pine in the living room every year. Not sure what that has to do with buying water, but I'm feeling rambunctious. Rambunctious enough for a....painful yet somehow endearing flashback:

My grandmother had a fake tree. White with blue ornaments, I secretly giggled that it was a Hanukkah bush. I never said so because she had a nasty left hook. Each year she'd retrieve this faux ode-to-joy from under the house. Since she never took the ornaments off, and since it was a whopping 30 inches tall, all she had to do was whip its trash bag cover off, plunk the thing down in her living room, and say, "Merry freakin' Christmas. Now fetch me some Kichels and rub my feet."

So you see, I, too, had a painful childhood. Like many others, I survive my past by ignoring it most of the year, facing it only at holidays with alcohol. And since I associate fake Christmas trees with the smell of cheap stale cookies and old feet, I compensate by getting a honkin' big Christmas tree and decorating the bejeebers outta the house. Makes sense, no? Doesn't need to, yes?

Getting this monster upright poses a challenge. In past years I've used a chaise lounge and two small boys to catapult it into position. That worked pretty well eventually, however, this year I've had the walls patched and painted. The real challenge? Get that tree up without destroying the house. Yes, the gauntlet, if not the tree, has been raised.

We performed our traditional hunting and killing of the pine at the Christmas tree farm, hauled it home and dragged it into the house, where it suddenly grew taller and heavier. Either that or my living room shrank, which is of course absurd.

"This is fun, Mom," my testosterone-infused ten-year-old said. He had manly gardening gloves on and was ready to 'git 'er done.' We decided to use two ladders and a winch. My youngest was the 'catcher,' holding the tree stand and the water bucket. Also wearing manly gloves.

Smooth sailing, right? Of course not, which is why you're reading this. After much grunting and growling, we got it vertical, but not perfectly vertical. I had to tinker with the stand to get it just right, which was exactly the wrong thing to do, because the tree had had enough and started to tip, slanting ominously over my ten-year-old, who was adjusting his manly gloves and obliviously repeating his fourth chorus of how fun this was. I jumped on him to protect him, giving the tree a shoulder block, which knocked it into the fireplace and couch, smashing a statue. Then I said a bad word, which made this adventure even more manly and fun.

My youngest was missing. I frantically pulled at the tree looking for him, yes, pining for him. Turns out he had retired to the other room to watch Scooby Doo.

By now it was time to take the boys to their dad's house. "Mom," my youngest said as I dropped them off, "Get some help." I assumed he meant physical assistance and not therapy.

After a beer, I 'ladderwalked' the tree into position. Using two ladders side by side, I'd lift the treetop a bit, climb a few steps on one ladder, lift the tree again, then shift to the other ladder, pull the first ladder closer to the tree with one hand or leg while holding the tree up with the other hand, lift the tree again, shift to the other ladder, and so on until the gol-dang tree was up, more or less. Kinda like macrame'. Who came up with this stupid tradition, anyway?

To get it all the way up, I invited my neighbor over to hold the bucket and stand while I tipped it finally into place. "It's not perfectly straight," she said, "Maybe a bit closer to the window....."

Sigh. Next year we're gonna do it without any trips to the emergency room.


Kristina said...

Reminds me of something Dave Barry said about Christmas trees. Something about the tradition being started by drunk German guys and how we were lucky they didn't decide to display a moose in the living room instead of a tree. Except that if we used a moose, we wouldn't get tree sap in our hair.

I don't live near my family now, so I usually go up to see them at Christmas, and I don't bother with a tree at home. When I move up to be close to them, I'll probably get an artificial one that looks semi-real. Sorry, but I just don't want to mess with a real one.

When I was growing up, we went out and got a real one every year, usually chopped it down, too. I guess I've had enough of that. I remember it being cold and wet when we got the tree.

Mad Scientist said...

I suggested you invest in the miracle Christmas tree stand It has a convenient foot peddle that makes it very easy to adjust the tree to straight.

Also put a pulley into one of your ceiling beams above where the tree goes. Then you will be all set every year to just pull the tree up and into place. Other parts of the year you can scare off the men by telling them the pulley is part of your sex toy box. ;-)

Anonymous said...

scare them away? I think it's more like attract them in droves!!!

Annie said...

Sometimes scaring them away also attracts them. Either way, it's a nice conversation piece. Bwahaha...

Anonymous said...

"tonight...a journey to a world of sensual delights as well as a review of the seven simple machines" -insomniac

rita said...

But it's beautiful, and you'll have years' worth of painful uh happy memories.