I wrote about the joy I felt last Christmas but when the event repeated itself this holiday season, I was even more ecstatic.
Opening the door to the basement in the cottage, I remembered the rush of excitement I felt when I was a little kid coming down the stairs on Christmas morning and seeing all the wrapped presents clustered under the tree. Only this present was even more joy-producing.
Wrapped in a plastic tarp was the fake Christmas tree we’d purchased at Home Depot last year. We’d stored it in the cellar completely assembled, replete with all its lights, thinking we’d retrieve it next Christmas.
And there it was, a Christmas tree for the taking. No driving to the Christmas tree lot, no stomping around in the cold looking for the perfect tree (by the way, there is no such thing. In my experience, every tree I’ve ever seen has missing branches somewhere, forcing you to turn the tree so the glitch faces the corner or wall. What do you want for ninety-five bucks anyway?), then tying it to the top of the car, driving home, wedging it through the door and then dropping it into the tree stand. A tree stand, by the way, is one of the most imperfect devices ever invented, right up there with the corkscrew and bulb planter.
The tree stand is the ultimate time sink. Expect to spend a good hour trying to get the tree straight and then struggling to turn those dastardly bolts that are supposed to grip the trunk so the tree doesn’t topple over. Of course it only comes crashing down when its loaded with ornaments, the kind of glad tidings you only get during the Christmas holidays, like the hot oil exploding when you drop the turkey in or the major present you hid so well you can’t find it.
Annie and I turned the tree on its side took it out through the cellar door, loaded it the Gator and drove it back to the house. Five minutes had passed and we had a Christmas tree gracing our living room. Plugged it in, tapped the floor switch and…oops! Two sections of lights blinked on but two didn’t. Was this the ghost of Christmas past coming back to haunt us? Would I have to go to Lowe’s again and buy more lights just like in the bad old days? But no, we quickly discovered that the two unlit sections had come unplugged, I guess when we stuffed it through the cellar door. When we plugged them in, the lights came on.
A half hour later, we had the tree loaded with the familiar ornaments we’d stored in the garage. The Mercedes hood ornament from one of our former cars, the Heineken can turned into an ornament, the lobster, the cow, etc. etc.
Thirty-five minutes total and we had an honest to goodness lighted and fully-decorated Christmas tree (that’s if you don’t look too closely or feel the needles)!
Damn, was I pleased with myself. I had totally eradicated one of the more onerous parts of the holidays. Now all I had to do was find the spray aptly named Scentsations that gave the fake tree that real tree scent and I was in business.
So, do I occasionally feel a touch of regret for having a fake tree with a fake scent? Have a sense of guilt for ducking out of a hallowed Christmas tradition?
Not on your life. Not only have I saved a tree from being sawn down, I’ve saved ninety-five bucks, three trips to Lowe’s, countless hours untangling strands of light and frustrating bouts with the cursed tree stand–for as they sing, “There’s no place like home for the holidays…” I might add–especially when you’ve got a fake tree gracing it.
(First appeared in Keswick Life in December 2019)