I sat down to write a Christmas-themed post and happened to notice that the time is exactly 12:25. Coincidence?
I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
So here we are, a mere five days before the big holiday, a fact that is difficult to swallow. On the one hand, it doesn’t feel as Christmasy as usual this year; thanks to my surgery and hospital stay, I was unable to string up holiday lights outdoors. I didn’t think it wise to crawl on my belly and dangle off the garage roof while trying to staple lights to the eaves. That wouldn’t have been good for my incisions or my psyche, knowing that one miscue could send me right back to Ye Olde County General. Since I didn’t put up outdoor lights, I also chose to skip the indoor lights I normally hang from the banister, but I attribute that more to laziness than a fear of falling. And then there’s the tree. I’ve been buying a freshly-cut Douglas Fir for the past couple of years, having grown tired of the fake plastic tree. Back when I was married, I used to pester the ex for an artificial tree. I always thought it would be more convenient and save us money in the long run, but she was a traditionalist and would have none of that. So naturally, the very month we divorced back in 2006, I ran out and bought myself an artificial tree. Not just any artificial tree, mind you; I bought the best I could find, a top-of-the-line 8′ pre-lit fir that was so detailed it even had fake bark decorating the center poles. And, err, it was sort of pricey. Like, $300 pricey.
What can I say? I was freshly single and it was the ultimate F-you gesture (so perfect for this magical time of year). I told myself I was reclaiming my independence, starting fresh, and by god if I wanted an expensive fake tree, then I was going to have an expensive fake tree and there was no nagging wife to stop me. Plus, I reasoned that I spent about $25 on a real tree every year, so in a mere dozen years this artificial baby would pay for itself. Ha! I really showed her!
I loved that tree the first year. Did I miss the scent of fresh pine? Sure, but that’s why they sell evergreen-scented candles, right? So that second marriage-free Christmas I bought a couple of those candles. The problem was, they didn’t really smell like a Christmas tree. Neither did the plug-in Glade dispenser. By year three I was sort of cursing the tree, which was difficult to store because it was so damn big and bulky. Plus, as convenient as having built-in lights was, those lights happened to be clear, and I have always preferred colored lights. Especially ones that flash and strobe and chase and fade in and out. Turns out I like my Christmas to resemble a discotheque. So, by year four I swallowed my pride and bought a real tree again from the corner lot. Last year (year five, if you’re counting) I not only bought a real tree once more, but I finally managed to get rid of the fake tree – which had been taking up residence in Audrey’s bedroom closet during the 11-month offseason – by surprising my parents while they were away on a cruise. The kids and I hauled the tree over to their house and decorated it for them, since they were halfway around the world and weren’t returning until a few days before Christmas. I thought it was a really sweet gesture, though I will admit when it came time to take down the tree I found myself conveniently busy and insisted they hang onto it since it was so much more impressive than the tiny artificial tree they usually put up, one which – I must point out – did not contain so much as an ounce of fake bark…just a green metal pole. Bor-ing. Clearly, I was doing them a favor, upgrading their future holidays with a much more realistic looking phony tree. Plus, Audrey had closet space again. We high-fived each other on the drive home, all the while remarking “free at last!”
And then, a funny thing happened. A few days after putting the real tree up, it fell over, flooding the carpet with water and an inch-deep layer of pine needles. How this happened exactly is a mystery, though I blame my cat Sydney, who had demonstrated a fondness not only for batting balls off the lowest branches, but also took a liking to the water in the stand, which she lapped up eagerly whenever she got the chance, completely ignoring my cries of “gross!” and “eww!”
Hmm. Two problems I never had with a fake tree…
So this year, because I’m an indecisive bastard, I was sort of looking for an excuse to reclaim that pricey fake tree that I had once loved, then despised, and now missed. I couldn’t very well take it back from my parents, though; that would make me an Indian Giver. Luckily, Fate had my back and dished up the perfect solution. Granted, I wish it hadn’t involved my gall bladder, but whatever works, works. Upon my return from the hospital, I pulled the ol’ surgery card and asked my mom if she would mind if I took the tree back since I was in no position to wrestle a big, heavy real tree into my home this year so soon after a major operation. Plus, there was the fact that I am flying to Nevada on Christmas Day, and leaving a real tree up for nine days after the holiday wouldn’t be prudent. She agreed, and long story short (ha – too late for that!), my pricey fake tree is back this year, standing proudly in the corner.
Naturally, I miss the smell of pine…
Anyway. Whatever. It’s worth the convenience! And in another eight Christmases, it will have paid for itself.
And while I said this year feels less Christmasy than normal, on the other hand, it’s also managing to feel more Christmasy than ever. I feel absolutely inundated with spirit because, for the first time in many years, I will be spending the holidays with a woman who is very special to me, and who I love unconditionally. I may be slightly apprehensive over the idea of flying, but hell, if Santa can get from Point A to Point B relying on nothing more than a team of lighter-than-air venison, I figure a 747 will be a piece of cake. Exchanging gifts next to her fake pre-lit tree as soon as we return to Ely is going to be wonderful. So, while the house may be a little less festive looking this year, it’s a different story inside my heart.
That’s what matters most. Just ask the Grinch.
- The Christmas tree dilemma (mavegyver.wordpress.com)
- Motherlode: Christmas tree showdown – real vs. fake (parentcentral.ca)