Tuesday, November 30, 2010

putting up the tree

The time has come, at least for me to begin the preparations for the holidays. It means that Thanksgiving and the youngest child’s birthday have both passed and I can now set up decorations for Christmas, putting up the tree, stringing up some lights around the place. I also can now get the presents I had purchased early, out of hiding, and get them wrapped. Our tradition is to put things up after Thanksgiving and then take it all back down right after Christmas, that way we give the November celebrations the attention due them without another sign of a pending holiday already in place.

But back to the tree. I have long used artificial trees. They are re-usable, do not bother anyone’s allergies, and I don’t have to worry about keeping one watered. Given my record with house plants, a fake tree is the way to go.
What I hate about them is the setting them up. We must first drag the box out of the attic and down those tiny pull down stairs. Ok in reality we hope there is nothing in the box’s path and just let it fall down the stairs. The tree is not breakable and the box is amazingly heavy. Then comes the putting together of the branches. I have one of those older style trees that you have a base, then these poles and all these branches that you stick into slots arranged around the pole in specific places. Somewhere along the line you need to “fluff” the branches. Some do it after placing the things into their slots, others do it before. We are divided in my house, which is the proper time to do so. Either method will result in scratched up hands as the fake needles on those branches are just as scratchy as the real ones, only minus the pine tar.

Then comes the time to string the lights, those damned lights. I sent Megan to the store for new lights this year because most of my old ones were not working any more. It took two trips as she realized after she got them home that the kind she had purchased weren’t the kind that you could connect together. Why do they make lights that you can’t connect together? That to me makes no sense, as I never need just one string of lights on anything I use them for.
It usually takes two of us putting the lights, and as has been the case in the past three years, at least one small cat. The two people are to wrap lights around the tree in an even fashion, the small cat to attempt to pull branches out of the slot, rip the light cord out of someone’s hand and cause general mayhem.

The beaded garland came next. We applied it to the branches of our tree in much the same fashion as we did the lights. We then took a several day break in hopes that the little cat in residence would get bored with the tree. It took all those several days and several repairs to the placement of lights and garland before he got bored.

Finally we put all the ornaments and made a sad discovery. My tree topper wouldn’t work on my tree. I downgraded to a smaller tree and the one I had bought for the big one, now at Ashley’s house was much to heavy. The topper being a filigreed cross-like item would just tip right on over on it’s way to the floor. I had to improvise and used the biggest bow I could find. It turned out ok. What I do miss is the angel I used to have. It was purchased at a specialty shop in Brevard and was made out of corn husks. She was really quite pretty, so lightweight and was painted a soft blue with gold accents and pretty gold wings. I had her for years. Then one day a kitten in residence, or one of its cohorts, decided to climb the Christmas tree. His foray into that artificial pine wonderland dislodged my pretty corn husk tree angel from her place of honor. I discovered an angel wing a good fifteen feet from the rest of her, gnaw marks clearly visible. No cat confessed to the crime.

I don’t doubt that this year the pristine quality of my little tree’s décor will only last for a little while. There are already signs of brightly shining balls being dislodged and making a feline induced exodus away from my tree. I can only hope that they leave the presents in a shred free state, or that I am not awakened at three a.m. By the sounds of ornaments and fake tree hitting the floor, being compromised by the weight of too many cats.

Every year, I vow to forgo the tree, because my tree and its decorations always seem to come out on the losing end of things with the furry members of my family around. But every year, I simply cannot resist the lure of a pretty tree all lit up with presents for my children underneath. By the day after Christmas, when I’ll take everything down and lug it back up to the attic, my tree will demonstrate just a fraction of its former glory. But it will all be worth it. We all will enjoy the tree while its up. Besides I have mostly non-breakable ornaments this year.