I write this to you while sitting next to the lit Christmas tree; it's not decorated, just lit. The tree is a round-as-it-is-tall Frasier Fir. While picking it out on Sunday, we Malcolms stuck close to our annual tradition: Scene 1, me pointing to the perfect tree; then Bill raising his arm straight up to prove he is unable to touch the top bough, saying, “This one is too tall for our living room.” Before resigning to that opinion, I drop my head to the trunk and see how much we can cut off; decide that’s too much of a gamble; and concede that we should not pay for an extra two feet when that’s how much needs to be chopped off the bottom before it goes into the house.
Scene 2, Malcolms move on to the neighboring tree, looking for one with the same shape as that first tree.
Scene 3, finally a four-way consensus on the perfect tree.
On Sunday, it took the tree salesman longer to explain the difference between a fir and a spruce than it did for us to find the tree. Our rotund tree was the second tree we looked at, only three trees down from the too big 10-footer.
We went to a new Christmas tree lot this year and had elves deliver the tree to our house via a sleigh on wheels. They pulled it behind their work truck that they use in their irrigation business the other three seasons. The elves even brought the tree inside and set in up in our tree stand. I thought this experience would be a welcome change for my Chief Tree-putting-up Elf, Bill, pictured here under the 2016 Christmas tree.
It made so much more sense for two professional elves to take care of this job as opposed to the Chief Elf and his three un-trained helpers.
While the tree was still wrapped in netting, I fed it two tablespoons of sugar in warm water, per the elves' direction. The elves told us to leave it for about an hour before we cut the netting off and released the branches. During that time, Bill noticed it was slightly askew, so he, Will, and I adjusted the angle of the trunk just a little bit, looking for 90-degree angles between trunk and floor from all vantage points. Finally, I cut the netting off and the branches shyly released. When I went to bed, they were still reaching for the ceiling.
At first sight of the tree the next morning, I gasped – for many reasons. There’s the tree! Yay, we have a tree! It’s so beautiful! ...Oh, my goodness, how did it get so big? How will I drag it out of here in January when it’s now twice as wide as the back door? The tree is nearly hugging the love seat! I need to re-arrange the furniture!
Sidebar: I have visual perspective issues. Salmon fillets double in size from the fish counter to my kitchen counter. Soup recipes calling for 10 cups of stock surely would be better if doubled. Hanging a picture on the wall usually ends in scratches on the paint because I can’t accurately visualize the placement of the hook on the photo relative to the nail on the wall. For me to get a golf ball into the hole in the green? Forget about it. So goes it with this tree. However, now that I’ve moved the computer hutch over twelve inches and the love seat back two feet, this over-sized tree is magnificent. The green breadth of the tree has stolen the living room focal point away from the wide-screen TV.
Last night I found the small tub of white tree lights from last year and pushed the strings into the depths of the branches toward the trunk. Eight strings later, I had hardly made a visible glow. I had two brand new strings of colored lights so added those to the mix. This could work… but I saw plenty of room for more twinkle. Once the wattage is at an acceptable level, I’ll start adding the decorations. From past experience, I know it makes the most sense to be happy with the lighting BEFORE putting ornaments on the tree.
Every year I get a bit better at accepting the fact that I do not, cannot, shall not put the tree up in one day, like I did when I was in my twenties. Now, there are more lights to buy, 25 years of accumulated ornaments to hang, and four schedules to coordinate. I might get twenty ornaments on today, none tomorrow, five on Friday, and finish over the weekend.
Acknowledging this fact makes tree trimming much more enjoyable than fretting over the slowness of the process. The rides to and from basketball, gymnastics, scouts, trumpet lessons, drum lessons, STEM classes – not to mention the daily school drop-off and pick-up – make for intermittent decorating. Fact.
Yes, today I’ve decided that I will appreciate the few minutes it takes to put on this year’s new baubles from Maine, NASA, Vermont, Boston, and Iowa. And, I will be grateful for the friends and our family who have weaved memories with us throughout the year.
We have a lovely, pudgy Frasier Fir from which to hang years’ worth of commemorations, celebrations, and reminiscences. And this intermittent decorating means several days for which to remember, to be thankful, and to be present. And of course, to laugh at year's past.