Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Tree

Today we make the dreaded Christmas tree purchase. I've learned to stand back and let my wife decide; intervening only if she's leaning toward a disaster.

The real work, of course, comes back at home when the limitations of the tree stand become apparent. I'll thrash around on the floor like a giant beetle, adjusting here and twisting there, until the tree is reasonably vertical. That done, my wife takes over again and decorates it and, truth be known, always does a great job. Tasteful, beautiful, and well-coordinated.

Unlike the trees of my childhood. There were five kids in my family, not a lot of money, and we attacked the tree with an assortment of ornaments bought here and there. There was lots of silver tinsel and debates were held on the virtues of the metal version, which hung better and could be rolled into a ball to throw at your brothers and sisters, versus the plastic type, which could be stretched and used as a stress reduction device.

We experimented a great deal. One year, my mother found some bizarre bargain basement product that involved a can of spray glue and small styrofoam balls which were supposed to resemble snow. (I suspect that product was sold only in desert cities.) You'd spray a branch with glue and then drop on the styrofoam and - voila! - you had a branch with styrofoam balls glued to it. It had limited appeal.

Many of our decorations were flawed in some way. Three-legged reindeer were common. And the bulbs were either those old super-hot large suckers or ones with glass, syringe-like, tubes that seemed far too scientific to be fun. We would rig everything up and then light it up.

The tree always looked great.

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