Monday, December 17, 2007

O Christmas Tree...

Roger and I generally divide the holiday decorating. He does outside, I do inside. And this works out quite nicely, usually. This is his busy time of year (what with the end of the semester, final exams, and papers to grade) and I care more about inside decorations than he does. Way more. (He still marvels over the fact that we have specific boxes for Easter decorations and Halloween decorations in the garage.) So typically he gets the outside lights up some weekend after Thanksgiving, and I start bringing out the holiday decorations to suit my indoor theme. (I know -- I got inspired to decorate in "themes" by a) getting tired of putting the same stuff in the same place every year; and b) watching all those HGTV holiday decorating shows ever year, culminating in the White House decoration extravaganza that is impressive and beautiful and ridiculous, all at the same time.)

ANYway. We've had all of the decorations up for weeks now EXCEPT for the Christmas tree. We didn't want to get it up too early, as our good friends are coming from Maine to spend New Year's with us and we wanted the tree to have a least a tinge of green by then. And then there's been the flu and what with one thing and another, the tree isn't up yet.

So, while Caroline and I stayed home in our jammies yesterday, Roger ventured out and brought home a lovely tree. A Noble Fir, our favorite kind, not too wide at the bottom. We were going to get it up last evening, but by then Caroline's fever had returned, I was feeling achey and tired still, and Roger had papers to grade.

When I stumbled downstairs this morning, Roger paused as he was heading out the door (briefcase and coffee mug in hand already) to say "Shall we bring in the tree and set it up in the stand before I go?"

Now, I don't know how easily your trees go up, but around here it's a struggle. Aside from the required moving-of-furniture, it's never an easy or quick task. Inevitably the tree is too wide for the stand, or too narrow...or it requires creative shims to make it stand straight. It's not a 5 minute job.

Is that just me?

I tried not to roll my eyes too obnoxiously and sent him on his way. But later in the morning, after I'd had coffee and dressed and gotten Caroline squared away with gingerale and a holiday movie to watch, I figured I'd at least shove the furniture around and set up the stand and get things ready for the tree.

And once that was in place, I figured I could get Caroline to help me get the tree into the stand, if I lifted the tree and she guided it into the stand's bowl. That's where it went awry.

And you know, that's where things go badly every year. Maybe it IS me.

Yep, sure enough, the tree is quite narrow for the stand, so it wouldn't stand straight or balance and I simply couldn't get it screwed into the stand with any sort of stability. There was the annual muttering-of-swear-words while clutching onto armfuls of pine, there's a great tradition to hand down to your child at Christmas, eh?

We pulled it out. We attached wood blocks to the trunk to add width. We re-inserted. We wrestled and muttered and snapped at each other and pulled it out again. At one point, I dashed downtown to pick up one of those small cheap tree stands, thinking that it'd suit the narrow trunk of this tree better...but no, all that happened was that the tree screws BENT as the tree slowly tipped over. You guessed it -- more muttered swear words.

I tried and tried, with Caroline gamely helping, for FAR too long. I'm talking spending 3 hours doing this. And finally, I dragged the tree back out to the garage, where it is now sitting in its bucket of water.

Roger and I had been looking at artificial trees, thinking that we may have hit that developmental stage where an artificial tree sounds like a wonderful relief, as opposed to a horrid sacrilege. (That's the developmental stage that come right after getting a car with automatic transmission feels like a good thing, too.) I've even selected the tree I'd want (check out the very realistic trees at -- I've seen these in person and they're pretty darn remarkable for artificial trees.) But they're pricey. Any of the decently-realistic ones seem to be.

And right now? I'm sitting here with some sap and pine in my hair, my back aching, and my hands stained by tree-sap and tingling with pine-needle pricks, and Caroline has been chastizing me about the words she's heard come out of my mouth this morning.

I figure I'd pay $1000 to never have to do that all again. I think an artificial tree would be a bargain.

I'll rest up and be in a holiday mood tomorrow. Once the halls are decked...


  1. One year I ended up with a 12 ft lodge pole pine: very tall, very narrow. Everything we tried failed. Until I had the brilliant notion (pat myself on the back) to put the tree in a 5 gal bucket and fill the bucket with sand and then water. That tree stayed upright. But we won't go into the removal of that tree, ok?

  2. We went to the Rocks Estate - run by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests ( The tree was freshly harvested earlier that day. There are a number that a standing upright on display. How do they do that? They have this very fancy laser-guided drill. They drill a hole through the bottom of the tree. They then have these "stands" - you plunk the tree down on the metal post and voila! it stands perfectly straight. The beauty is that they have treestands with both a very large reservoir *and* the magic spike. So my DH carried the tree up the stairs while I placed the stand strategically on the living room floor. He then plopped the tree into the stand. We snipped the twine (of course they bundle it up before they load it in your truck) and the tree was up, perfectly straight, in less than 5 minutes!

    We also have one of those gorgeous artificial trees I ordered from Frontgate a couple of years ago when we were living in a tiny condo and spending most of our time at our restaurant. Fire codes don't permit a live tree in a restaurant here. I have to admit it *is* beautiful and many, many people thought it was real. But I'm thrilled that we're now in a house again and have a real tree.

  3. We bought a fake tree four or five years ago when decent looking ones were on sale locally. We were more involved in charity and community functions then and it seemed a tree was always needed, so this fit the bill. We've wimped out and set up the fake one at home every year since. It's completely paid for itself in terms of time not spent getting it up or down. (I've never had a tree fit the stand on the first try.) Our cars are still manual though ;-)

  4. I'm so feeling your pain. Thank goodness Mr C has this down to a science. He even selects the tree based on its trunkiness. He puts it up, puts the lights on and I do the rest.

    Hope you feel better, soon.