Friday, November 15, 2013

I Hear Sleigh Bells!

Rearranged the living room in preparation of the arrival of our Christmas tree!

And so it begins – my Christmas quest. I spent yesterday afternoon rearranging our living room in preparation of the arrival of our Christmas tree. I still have some more decorating and decluttering to do, but it's getting there!

Would you believe that Mark is actually considering getting a real tree again this year?? Yeah, me neither.

This year, I was content to put up ol’ faithful, the “plastic disaster” – our $20 WalMart tree that we bought when we first moved in. We bought it out back, in the Lawn & Garden section. A masculine woman knocked it off the top shelf of a warehouse pile, and it fell 30 feet to, what we thought, was its certain death and dismemberment.

Surprisingly, it was just fine when we opened it at home, but as we compared the assembled tree to the photo on the box, we noticed some discrepancies. While the tree on the box looked relatively luscious and full, ours was downright see-through. Gaping holes between branches made it look a little sickly – and not in that charming, Charlie-Brown-Christmas kind of way.

We had two choices – spend 45 minutes arranging the branches to make the tree look fuller, or cut off half of the branches to make it look more sad and pathetic, therefore making it slightly more lovable. I started arranging branches.

The tree has never quite reached its box-promised glory, but we’ve put it up year after year, and I’ve tackled its awkwardness with my optimism and Christmas cheer. We’ve propped it up on a box to make it taller, stuffed the holes with garland, and stuck a glowing star on top in celebration of it being our little, awkward Christmas tree.

Then, 3 years ago, I persuaded Mark to get a real tree. We were planning a family, and I wanted to have the experience (and be prepared for our children to have the experience) of chopping down our own tree. We headed up the road a few miles to the Christmas Tree Farm – a huge farmhouse in the country next to sweeping fields of potential Christmas trees.

We had, of course, arrived after work as it was getting dark and temperatures were dropping. I stuffed my hands in my pocket, as we greeted the owners, and Mark grabbed a saw. I spotted a pot of hot cocoa on the porch and momentarily considered sending Mark off into the woods to get our tree while I waited it out in the warm glow from the porch light, cradling a cozy cup of hot cocoa in my hands. I considered all excuses that would allow me to do so, and Mark must have sensed my hesitation. When I looked up, he had that stern, “Don’t even think about it” look on his face.

Ahem. “Ok, let’s go,” I said cheerily, grabbing a sled with which we would tow our tree back. We walked about 30 feet to the edge of a vast field of Christmas trees. In the fading sunlight, we could see the last of the crop dwindling over the side of a distant hill.

“This one oughta work!” I said, pointing to one right next to me. It was so close to the farmhouse that it was unclear if it was part of the owners’ landscaping or a sellable fir.

“Are you sure you don’t want to look around a bit more?” Mark asked. He wasn’t quite sure we had put in enough of an effort for this to count as part of the traditional Christmas experience.

“Nah, this one’s fine,” I said, as I shivered and pulled my hat down tighter around my ears.

We were standing on a bit of raised ground as we gazed down at our potential Christmas tree, which appeared to be the right height and width. Mark started sawing away, and I daintily pushed against the trunk, trying to avoid getting myself too close to the prickly tree and prevent getting poked through my mittens by any little pine needles.

Finally, Mark insisted that I put in a little more effort and take a turn sawing. A few minutes later, I handed the saw back to him, and he finished the deed. With a crack of the trunk and plop in the sled, we were heading back to the house with our tree. I was so excited!

Two hours later, we had the tree tied up and strapped to the roof of our car. We drove home, and Mark carried it upstairs (see pic in previous post). As other family's funny tales of Christmas-tree shopping would predict, the tree was a little too large for our apartment, but we made it work. We needed to go out and buy 2 extra boxes of lights, but eventually she was all suited up in Christmas magic and glory! Ahh!

Then we noticed that the floor seemed to be crawling.

“Mark, what is that?” I asked, as I bent down to inspect.
“Ughhh… Spiders.”
“Whaaa.. what!?”

No, no, no… not okay. Something had hatched in our Christmas tree, and there were baby spiders everywhere. I felt guilty, but I went about killing the ones that escaped from the tree. The others that stayed in the tree, I let live. As we decorated, they made webs and dropped from branch to branch. I cringed every time I saw one. Quite a few made intricate webs from the star to the ceiling. After a few days, I got used to our little spider elves.

Overall it was a nice experience. Our tree and our hearts were full, despite the fact that I forgot to water it, and that it was a "lovely house of death" to the spiders that remained. Oh, and it smelled so nice!

Fast-forward to 3 years later and life with a toddler. I was ready to half-heartedly throw up the plastic disaster and make it work when Mark said, “I’m thinking about getting a real tree this year.”

“Yeah. I think it’d be nice…”

This is the first year that E has more of an understanding about the joys of Christmas, so I do think it’s important to start some family traditions, and I think it’s super sweet that Mark seems so adamant about getting a real one. Last year, he was a little “ho-hum,” Grinchy, and grumpy about it. Though Mark is a big-hearted guy, I can only guess that our little Cindy Loo Hoo has made his heart grow three times its size. After Thanksgiving, stay tuned for pictures from our first family Christmas-tree harvest!

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