I never know if we’re going to get a Christmas tree at all. It’s up to Pootie, and sometimes he plays his cards pretty close to the vest. This year I really thought we were going to get away with no tree. That would have been fine with me. We’ve stripped Christmas way down. I’ve gone from making a dozen presents, at 15-60 hours labor per each, to Nobody Gets Presents. I’ve got my time spent on Christmas cards down from about fifty hours to about fifteen. Now we put on carols for a couple days and eat extra chocolate and one year we had a special beer at ten o’clock Christmas morning, and that’s about it.
Besides, if we averaged last year’s tree with No Tree, it would come out to a normal-sized tree. Last year’s tree was five feet taller than our ceiling. Other people, standard-issue people who are neither too tall to see what’s on the bottom shelf nor too short to change the light bulb, might think that means the tree didn’t fit, but we’re accustomed to making things work around here. We’re not a matched set, ourselves.
The only thing our trees have in common is us. We’ve had tiny little ones and great big ones and once we stapled a huge branch to the wall. We don’t have what you’d call a tradition. Not like my niece Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s mom always put up the tree on Christmas Eve and not a minute earlier, and they’d spend the evening decorating it. It was big and fat. You’d just sort of push the ornaments into it. She had gobs of antique ornaments. I think it was because her own dad was an admiral and lived all over the world, and maybe he had dirt on some oligarchs. So maybe some of the ornaments started out as hair pins for the Romanov girls. Or were made by Currier for Ives. Or lived in Mata Hari’s navel. I don’t know. They’re fancy. They’d decorate until bedtime and then Elizabeth would wake up at two in the morning and come down and open all her presents and that’s where the grownups would find her come daylight, sitting happily in a mound of wrapping paper and toys without a single regret. And now the ornaments have all been passed down to her, and she continues the big fat Christmas Eve tree tradition.
Meanwhile, across town, Dave kept asking if Pootie wanted a tree this year, and I kept saying hell if I know why don’t you ask him, and sure enough, finally, late on Christmas Eve, Dave let on that Pootie did want a tree after all, now that it was 33 degrees, dark, and raining sideways. You’d think you could get a bargain in those conditions, but no. Evidently, there was a Christmas Tree shortage this year. I’m not sure how that happens, inasmuch as almost everybody knows when to expect Christmas, but it did. And we’re in a Christmas Tree producing state. That’s what we got: trees and hops and hazelnuts. It beats coal.
But we did find a great tree. Might be my favorite tree of all time. Charlie Brown passed it up. It’s got about six branches on it, and it’s about a foot wide. It’s no bigger than the portion of last year’s tree that stretched along the ceiling. “Twenty bucks,” the tree guy said, and I said Really? And he said “Yup, twenty bucks,” and I said Reeeeeally? And he said, “Yeah, it’s a Doug Fir, twenty bucks,” and I said “It’s a noble,” and he said “Yeah, that’s right, twenty bucks,” and I said “Dave, pay the man.” It’s the Art Of The Deal for Democrats.
It IS a noble fir. My favorite kind. They’re stout and sparse. You can hang bowling balls from them and they don’t even shrug. We stuck it in a concrete block and jammed a towel around it, and Pootie and Dave did the decorating with Pootie’s own ornament collection, which owes more to the Dollar Store than the Romanovs.
I do know it comes down on Epiphany. Epiphany is the day on the religious calendar commemorating the moment Mary told Joseph that she didn’t care what else he was planning to do, the damn tree was coming down now. I guess it came to her all of a sudden.
When did Mary tell Joseph that he wasn't the father? I've got a lot of white spruce growing all over the farm and if I want to take one in I can do it, but then the others complain.
Loss of companionship?
Trees with character are the best!
Not to mention trees picked out by characters.
The family I grew up in was a Christmas Eve is when you get the tree family. Which led to the most memorable trip to find the tree involving driving out in a blizzard and somehow miraculously not only returning alive, but also returning with an actual tree from some tree selling lot that was somehow still open. The rest of Christmas Eve always spent with my father having several martinis and swearing a lot while untangling the lights and trying to find the one that was burned out and preventing any of the rest of them from lighting up. After the lights were finally sorted he sat down with his martinis and let us do the rest of it. I have, it must be admitted, departed from the last minute tree tradition. I've almost departed from a tree at all – but not quite. We now have a faux tree that The Husband found in a dumpster a few years back. It's about three feet tall and sits on a table for the duration of the festivities. And generally gets put back in the garage well before I have any sort of epiphany.
I think my father had it even worse with the light strings, because he didn't swear in front of the family and he didn't drink either. There were NO mitigating factors.
Around here, by Christmas Eve, the attendants have abandoned the remaining trees and gone home to get warm. The leftover trees are fair game for anyone who still needs one by that late date. Many folks have their trees crisping in the warmth of their homes by the end of Thanksgiving weekend.
Wouldn't you think? They were getting every dime.
Merry Christmas, Pootie!
Pootie says back atcha.
Think of the $20 as an investment in a great post 🙂
Our tree is coming down today, too. Or tomorrow. Or next weekend. I'm in no hurry.
I'm pretty sure I can fit ours in our yard debris recycling bin without even whacking at it.
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For a while we didn't have a tree but one of our friends knitted us two ornaments a couple years ago, so we put Mardi Gras beads around the rosemary bush and hung the ornaments on it. Then we did it again the next year and this year, so maybe that's our new tradition. We have four ornaments on it this year.
I used to depend on a sturdy houseplant for my Christmas "tree." Even had a whole collection of teeny ornaments. No knitted ones, though.
Somewhere, somebody has knitted an entire tree, right? I'm not volunteering. I think my sum total lifetime knitting (one pussy hat) does not qualify me for the big leagues yet.
The giant tree might be my favorite tree of all time – and I LOVE Christmas trees.
Last year's? That was our tree in two different years, four years apart! Pootie got it for me in a gallon pot when it was about a foot tall.
I love your too tall tree 🙂
I like big fat trees too, but for me it's artificial trees, I hate the thought of getting a real tree and then just throwing it away and buying another one the next year. Mine goes back in its box and comes out again the next December. Except now I don't have room for it, so it stays in the box. I have a zillion decorations that also now stay in their boxes.
I really like Pootie's little tree this year, it's the perfect size, minimalist you might say. And it looks so terrific, simple. Less is more they say and this demonstrates that rather perfectly.
I used to have real Christmas trees, before I really thought about it. Once I did, I couldn't justify killing trees in their prime of life in "the spirit of the season". We decorated our house plants — which are huge — for a while there. But now, we just don't see the point in the whole decorating/gift-buying/gluttony dynamic that is the holidays. There's a lot of work involved, a lot of pressure, and a great expenditure of money. We generally stay away from shopping mall areas between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and just try to ignore the whole brouhaha.
We do too, but you can only go SO minimal when you have a Pootie in the house.
That picture with Pootie…and the white, odd looking ornament on the tree next to him…looks kind of like…well, like a personal wardrobe item for a specific gender. With something extra. Afraid to ask. Must know.
Oh. You mean Pootie's ceramic jock strap? Doesn't everyone have one of those?
I took down the tree on New Year's day. Carrying it outside, I stumbled on the threshold and fell against the glass paneled screen door. I pulled e 3inch shards out of my haunch, the ER doc went fat-diving for the 4th which was fully embedded. I got six stitches and a bruise that has morphed into an image of St. Chrisystom. I am re-thinking Christmas trees.
I think you should rethink that door!
We used to get our tree in the Bull Run watershed, you know that reservoir that you're not supposed to go near? Lots of the right size trees that are probably 50 feet tall by now.
You're not supposed to go near that. Buster.
When I lived alone I didn't make a fuss at Christmas. At most, I'd put out the few cards I got and called it a day. I teach music at my house and one of my student's parents looked around my living room one December and asked if I was Jewish. She was a Jewish History Professor. That was a few years ago and now that I've married a Canadian, our living room looks like the window at Macy's. She decorates it all and takes it down. Okay by me.
That's it, right there–if someone else wants to do it all, and undo it all, I'm on board.