A funny thing happened this year. My girlfriend came down with a serious case of Christmas spirit.
Me? I always feel festive during the holiday season. I eat this jingle bells shit up. Way back in July, we were sitting outside on the patio, playing cribbage and enjoying an adult beverage, when I noticed that one of the leaves on the nearby maple tree had an ever-so-slight twinge of crimson, and approximately one point eight seconds after pointing this out to Tara I said, “So, where should we put the tree this year?”
“What tree?” she asked.
“The Christmas tree, of course!” I replied. Duh! Had I not just pointed out that the leaves were changing color?
“Babe, it’s 90 degrees,” retorted she.
“Sure, it’s ninety today. And it might be ninety a week from now. Hell, it might be ninety a month from now. Possibly two months from now. But it’s never too early to start planning! The holidays are practically here! I say over in the corner, by the window. We can move the recliner over. What do you think?”
She didn’t think it was time to start thinking about it yet, and that is when I made the sad realization that not everybody is into the holidays like I am. Tara had, in fact, let me know that Christmas never excited her all that much. She thought it was more for children. (Children?! Puh-leeze. Why should they get excited for Christmas? Aside from all that Santa bullshit and piles of gifts and two weeks off from school? What a head-scratcher that comment of hers was, but I’ve never claimed to understand women). And until last year, when I visited her in Ely for the holidays, she hadn’t even put up a tree in years. Because of this preexisting ambivalence toward the bestest, most jolliest time of the year, I figured I would just have to rely on having enough Christmas spirit for the both of us.
And then, the unexpected occurred. She had to work the day after Thanksgiving, so I busied myself decorating the house. (I held back this year, waiting until the following morning to haul out the decorations. Usually the guests are maneuvering around plastic bins marked XMAS to load their plates for second helpings of turkey and stuffing, and the minute the door is closed behind them, the tinsel is flyin’).
(Actually, have you noticed nobody decorates with tinsel anymore? Why not?? I love the stuff. Sure, it clung to your clothes whenever you walked past the tree, and you’d find errant silver strands all over the house well into springtime, but it was shiny and festive and looked like icicles hanging from your tree branches. I have one box that’s unopened and about twenty years old. I can’t bear to use it until I’m sure I can find more somewhere).
Anyway. Tara came home that afternoon, found the house partially decorated, and – instead of scoffing and plopping down on the couch to watch an episode of Project Runway – actually started helping me put up decorations. I was surprised and delighted. Still, I figured this was a temporary burst of cheer at best, intended to placate me. But it was, in fact, only the beginning.
“Let’s put up lights!” she urged. So we put up lights. “Let’s buy eggnog!” she said. So we bought eggnog. “Let’s dust the house from top to bottom and mop the kitchen and clean the knobs on the stove!” she said. So she dusted the house from top to bottom and mopped the kitchen and cleaned the knobs on the stove.
OK, so that last part isn’t relative to the story. But she was suddenly buying a stocking and a miniature Christmas tree that expands in water for her desk at work and joining in the Secret Santa festivities there. And then, there was this Facebook post the other day.
Me and two other gals at work signed up for the gingerbread house decorating contest as the Gingerbread LaLas. This christmas spirit crap is getting out of control.
I was so impressed with this unexpected display of Christmas cheer, I decided to take a gamble and shoot for the moon. I took a deep breath and the words came tumbling out.
“I beg your pardon?”
Slow down, Petruska. “Err…sorry. Can we go cut down a real tree this year?”
She hesitated no longer than three or four seconds before responding, “Sure!”
Wow. Did somebody spike my girlfriend’s eggnog?
So, yesterday we all piled into the car – me, Tara, and the kids – and drove into the countryside to cut down a fresh tree. OK, it was actually a U-Cut tree farm located half a mile from a strip mall, but still. It beat the heck out of a fake, plastic tree! This was the same Christmas tree farm I used to go to when the kids were little, back in another lifetime. It had been eight or nine years since I’d cut down a tree, but it was just like I remembered.
Meaning, difficult as shit.
Seriously. Have you tried cutting a tree down lately? It’s a flippin’ TREE. With a thick trunk. That bandsaw the farm provided was about as useful as a Swiss Army knife. Actually, less useful, because it didn’t come with a toothpick. After much
blood, sweat and tears – and muddy jeans – I finally somehow managed to wrestle the beast into submission. We got it tied atop the family truckster, hauled it home, and spent the rest of the afternoon listening to Elvis’s Christmas Album, drinking eggnog (you bet your ass it was spiked, after that ordeal), and decorating the tree. We had a couple of mishaps – like forgetting to trim enough of the bottom branches from the trunk, and watching in horror at one point as the fully decorated tree crashed to the ground before our hapless eyes, shattering a bunch of ornaments in the process – but in the end, the scent of fresh pine and the beautiful, twinkling lights made the whole thing worthwhile.
“Next year, if we get a real tree again, we’re buying it from the corner lot,” Tara said afterwards.
I did not disagree. After all, my muscles are killing me today. Even ones I didn’t know I had. As long as we end up with a real tree, who cares if somebody else beat us to the punch and cut it down first?
I’m just thrilled that my girlfriend is full of happiness and cheer this year. Fa la la la yeah!