My childhood memories aren’t always totally clear but I do remember our Christmas Tree hunts with my father at the local tree farm in town. You had a little hacksaw and walked up and down the farm hill looking for the perfect tree in the freezing cold (and occasional snow). When Stew Leonard’s came to the neighboring town in the mid-late 1980s, we still got our real Christmas tree but let behind the hunt through the cold for a less-Norman Rockwell-esqe tree buying ordeal. We would still decorate the tree together as much as we could, usually with my father’s records playing in the background: Bing Crosby, John Denver and the Muppets Christmas (my favorite). I’m sure the actual moments weren’t as perfect as I remember, but I have an itch to make those special memories for my boys.

In the last 15 years that I’ve been with my wife, I’ve whined a little bit every Christmas about wanting a real tree again. I want the experience of taking the boys out to pick the best tree. I want the smell of pine needles (the smell of Christmas) in my house.

My wife, on the other hand, isn’t thrilled about real trees and will argue that the care and constant need to vacuum needles all over the house – plus the fire hazard – don’t seem to make a real tree worth the work.

This year, I took our artificial tree out of the attic and lugged it downstairs.
The tree is on its last leg. We bought it at a discount store on December 26th probably 9-10 years ago. Maybe we spend $36 on the thing. It had a good life, if you ask me.
I bitched and moaned about putting the stupid thing together and then huffed and puffed as I busied myself with the task of separating and “branching out” all of the fake branches so that they appeared as real as possible.

Then, I noticed that some of the wires holding up the branches were bent and broken. I took out pliers and tried to bend them back in the right spots. In the process, I took some skin off the back of one hand. I cursed and continued to huff. I finally gave up, kept muttering under my breath about the tree and plugged the “pre-lit” thing in to check out the lights. 2-3 parts in total were burned out. You can’t just take strands off, the lights are there permanently. I spent almost an hour trying to fix certain strands, replace bulbs, determine problem spots, all the while muttering and cursing.

My pissiness wasn’t lot on my wife and she finally said “for the love of God, if you want a real tree, go get one. But you will need to take care of it, water it, vaccum, make sure you unplug all lights, figure out how we will get rid of it (ahem, the condo garbage crew picks it up in front of the house…snicker), etc.” She was appeasing me but I know she’d scoff at the price of a real tree anyway.

As the tree was coming together, Dylan was beyond excited. He was pulling out ornaments and carefully placing them in their ideal spots. Andrew wasn’t as excited, but he got up every so often to put something on the tree. As Lois mentioned getting a real tree, Dylan looked heartbroken.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” he cried, “we cannot get another tree. This is our tree and I want to make it perfect.”

Andrew looked up from his Minecraft video and said “yeah, mommy. What’s wrong with this tree, it looks perfect to me.”

I stopped my childish whining and looked at them. Seriously? We can do so much with a new tree and put some working lights, get rid of the bald spots and dark spots, have the smell of real pine in the house and they thing THIS THING is perfect? Have they never been on Facebook or Pinterest during the holidays???

They both looked at me and waited for me to get on board.

“Ok. The tree is perfect. You’re right.”

And while I’d still like to have something a little prettier, I’m totally over it. This tree is perfect and I think they did a great job decorating it.

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Note: After this Christmas, however, this thing is going in the garbage!

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