Saturday, December 17, 2005

O Christmas Tree

The Christmas Odyessy continued at our house today as we hunted Santa and a tree. Usually we visit Santa at a local Christmas villiage sponsered by the Soroptimists, but they didn't host one this year. We heard rumors of a Santa holding court at a local Chinese food restaurant, only to arrive to an empty chair and queing ropes and candy canes stored to one side. The Big Man had left. The Navy Base had a Santa, but we were not with our Naval connections and could not get to see him. So we told disappointed children that letters to Santa would have to suffice, and went to get a tree.

The Muralist had a very specific plan.

"First, you go to where the trees are." Check.

"Then you sneak up on them quietly." (That one is harder when the under five children are running and yodeling, "Christmas is almost HEEEERRRRRREEEE!") Anyway, Check. Mom and Dad can sneak.

"Don't let them see you." Check.

"Grab one before it runs away." Me: "The tree?" Muralist: "Yes." Check.

"Take it home and decorate it." Check.

"How," queries Dear Husband of the Muralist, "can trees see you?"

"Don't be silly," laughs Verbalist with as dry a chuckle as a four year old can muster. "Trees can't see you."

"Why?" persists the DH, with a sideways grin at me, mining this rich vein of humor.

"Because, I am watching them," declares the Verbalist with emphasis. In other words, those wily trees might want to look around but dare not lest they find a four year old catching them out.

Needless to say, we lost our way trying to find the tree farm we use every year, and discovered a delightful one. Trees were half the price of our usual farm and the old coot who bound our tree with twine did not even miss a beat when the Muralist described catching the tree before it ran away.

The DH hoisted the tree on top of our little economy car with the Chiclet engine, and set about securing it with knotty precision, bourne of boyhood sailing and scouting. The DH has become less retentive about tying the tree. In years past he would use five ropes; all interwoven and anchored for every conceivable point. This year it was a single rope but by jimminy it would be tight.

I don't think that tree moved an inch during the drive home. We arrived and I escorted the young'uns in as Dear Husband hacked off another inch of trunk and went to work putting the tree in the stand. Nothing says Christmas spirit like grimly wrestling with tree stand screws in a chilly driveway, then breaking out your powerdrill because, ya know, its gotta help get that tree straight in the stand.

Of course, nothing says Christms spirit like unwinding the Gordian knot of Christmas lights either. That's my job. Dear Husband washed his hands of Christmas lights in the first year of our marriage. If I want lights, it's up to me to provide them. Each year I open the box marked lights, stockings, and bells. The bells go up outside the door, the stockings get unpacked from their snowman bag and are hung by the chiminey with care. The lights get a shudder and are ignored for as long as possible.

Each year I pull out the strings of lights which were packed away with meticulous care the year before. Each year the lights have snarled into a tangle which makes a Celtic knot look like a bow. I plug in the strings. When I had put them away all the strings work perfectly, when I plug them in half of the bulbs are out and the rest glare malevolently. "Jiggle the cord wrong," they say, "and we'll go out too."

"That's right," I declare. "I was going to buy new lights this year." I sit for a minute or two, contemplating the purchase of new lights. Then I sigh and start fiddling with the strings in my lap.

The tree is up now. It only fell over twice. No where near our record, which is seven, I think, that was Christmas 1999. The top is graced by the angel Dad insists I stole from him, but which Mom gave to me on my first Christmas of wedded bliss. The rest of the tree is heavy into Santas, snowmen, mice and trains. Happily, the Klingon Bird of Prey is not making an appearance this year, although Garfield, Winnie the Pooh and Snoopy were each tested in places of pride before settling down to their temporary homes. I will enjoy the ornaments of kidhood and be pleased that Batman has not yet made an appearence on the tree. According to the Verbalist, the Joker has had his eye on the Three Kings. Batman might be needed to safeguard the gold, frankincence, and myrrh.

No comments: