Saturday, December 19, 2009

More Tree Tales

They always say you marry a man like your Dad. Well, he's never waited till Christmas Eve to buy the tree and he's always helped me come up with a fairly presentable one, so I guess The Big Guy may be an exception to that rule (at least when it comes to the Christmas tree buying.)

However, he's not really much of a tree man. He can take or leave it - and has.

What is it about men and Christmas trees? Why don't they see the importance of finding and decorating the perfect tree each year?

Our first Christmas together, The Big Guy decided we weren't going to have any tree. I tried pouting, begging, even full out crying, to no avail. He was determined. At the time, it was HIS house, not mine, so he stood his ground. We had NO tree at all but we DID have a huge family party on Christmas Eve. His family. Of course, he expected them to see his reasoning and was shocked when every single person entered the house and immediately asked where's your tree? he swore I called each one and instigated them to do so. (I didn't need to.) He swore trees were a "woman thing" and was surprised to find even the men in the family thought this just wasn't right. He did not do this again. We call this one the "Year with No Tree."

We went along smoothly for several years, with me going and getting the tree, bringing it home and, often, even setting it up without help. He sometimes assisted in getting it in the house but the rest was all my job. With a number of "single" years in my past, I was up to the challenge.


Then , one year, he and his mom went shopping and purchased artificial trees. She bought a nice one. All I can say about ours is, I didn't know they made artificial Charlie Brown trees! It was pitiful. I know why he thought it was such a great price. It started out straggly but lost as many needles with each use as a real tree. One had to hang the ornaments carefully so the tree was balanced weight-wise all the way around. I still had trouble keeping it standing so we started tying it to the rail along our stairway.

It was the kind that had a dowel for a trunk with little angled holes into which you inserted the individual branches. The branches were color coded to the holes so the tree had a gradually widening shape. I complained about it from day one but tried to make the best of it that first year.

The second year, the little angled holes starting cracking a little and the branches tended to droop a little lower as the holes crumbled at the edges. The Big Guy did not see this as a problem. According to him, I was nit-picking. I duct taped the branches in.

The third year, duct tape wasn't cutting it. I was having to completely skip branches here and there where the holes had deteriorated. It was beginning to look like it had survived a bombing. The Big Guy redrilled some of the holes. The tree was now just slightly cockeyed due to the now unbalanced placement of the new holes. It was unstable enough, I needed to tie it right from the start. The light string was heavier than it could handle! I complained for a full hour while decorating it.

The Big Guy sat in his chair, seeming to ignore me. He finally jumped out of his chair, shouted "Then throw the d------ thing out!", pulled the ornaments and lights off, grabbed the scrawny little fake weed and carried it out (fully put together) and jammed it in the top of the trash can ! To add emphasis, he dragged the can up to the curb to wait for the garbage man !

I was a little stunned. We had that danged party scheduled for the next night and, once again, we didn't have a tree. I could not face that again. I screamed, cried and argued. He got mad and went to the bedroom to watch T.V, slamming the door behind him.

I then grabbed my keys and headed for the nearest tree lot where I bought the most expensive tree I've ever had, had it netted and tied to my car by the man at the lot. I brought it home where I found The Big Guy still holed up in the bedroom.

It was almost dark. The tree needed a fresh cut and I had no idea where the big saw was. There I was, out on the front step with a tiny little hack saw trying to take an inch or two off. My neighbor saw me, assumed The Big Guy was ill or something and offered to help. He whipped out an electric saw, trimmed the bottom and carried the tree into the house for me where he helped get it bolted into the stand. I quickly decorated it and by the time The Big Guy was feeling remorseful and came out to apologize, we had a beautiful tree in residence.

The clincher was the next night, when as guests arrived, they walked past the tree sticking out of the garbage can. As they came in the door, they called out, "Is it safe to come in?" They figured there'd been a war!

Ultimately, we did have one of our prettiest trees that year. Of course, it cost more than twice what most of our trees have cost as I wasted no time shopping around. I think the salesman felt how desperate I was and took advantage of it when it came to quoting a price!

That was the "Year of the Trashed Tree."

Next came the "Year of the Smashed Tree."

We had an absolutely stunningly fantastic tree that year. It sat centered in front of the big window in the living room and was all decked out with the many fancy glass ornaments I had been collecting for so many years as well as quite a few family heirloom ornaments dating back to my grandparents. It was quite large and seemed fairly stable.

The night after Christmas, something woke me in the wee hours of the morning and, after going to the bathroom, wandered to the living room instead of going directly back to bed. I stood in the doorway, ready to admire my beautiful tree which should have been glistening in the moonlight but there was no tree there. I turned the light on only to find the tree laying full out on the living room floor. There were bits and pieces of colored glass everywhere.

I was devastated. So many of my treasured ornaments so lovingly wrapped and stored each year were gone. To quote The Big Guy, "smashed to smithereens!" Since I didn't think he'd appreciate me waking him in the middle of the night to tell him the tree fell over, I crawled into a chair and cried for about an hour and then went back to bed.

When the alarm went off an hour or so later, I told him the tree had fallen over. He thought I was dreaming and mumbling in my sleep so he was shocked when he entered the living room, too. He was able to lift the tree and lean it against the wall. We began to mop up the spilled water and did a quick run-through with the vacuum cleaner but that was just the beginning of the clean up. We both needed to go to work.

When I came in from work, he had already begun the clean up of the glass.He knew I was heartbroken and he was properly sympathetic. None of my grandmother's ornaments had survived. Many of those I'd been given or bought while I was a kid were also destroyed. I picked pieces up here and there and commented on how old each was and where it had come from. I think that was when he truly understood the importance of the tree to me.

After dinner, he did his best to make things right. We went to a local department store known for their beautiful ornament selection and attacked the after-Christmas sale full on. I bought many a great and unique looking ornament. (I think we bought something like 30 ornaments that night !) Most were more expensive than I ever would have considered before the holiday. We came home and redecorated that tree.

One of our best friends showed up a day later with a new, extremely heavy cast iron tree stand for future use. Nothing could knock that stand over.

Until the next year. That's when we had "Smashed Tree Two." (And another after-Christmas shopping spree in the ornament section!!)

Our trees ALL get tied in place now. We don't take any chances.

Here's to you and all of your beautiful trees out there. May they stand solidly for the duration!

No comments: