Sunday, December 11, 2005

Oh, Christmas Tree

My husband and I are very different people. I've exaggerated slightly before that the only things we have in common are each other and our daughter. One of our biggest differences comes to holiday decorations.

When he was growing up, his family owned a hardware store. I'm convinced that Home Depot and Lowe's took the idea of a small town hardware store and just expanded the square footage. It was more than the place to pick up the nuts and bolts you needed to finish a job. It was where you got your bikes and Barbie dolls, the de-icer you used to get into your car on a frozen winter morning, as well as the new level you needed because you threw out the old one when you realized that grand-daddy didn't have a single plumb line in the farm house he built and you're now maintaining. Unlike Home Depot, you could call up my late father-in-law after hours when your kitchen sink was flooding and get him to open up and find you the part you needed to restore sanity to your home. I never associated hardware with Christmas, but it was their biggest season as well. The energy spent on Christmas at work meant that less energy was spent on Christmas at home, and their decorations were low-key and done late in the season. Any Christmas cooking was done just for the family meal.

My family's ritual was to decorate our house the day after Thanksgiving in an all day affair of light testing and reminiscing over ornaments. We had something for every room in the house. My mother and grandmother would have some craft project we'd develop over the holidays. Candies, cookies and cakes would fill our fridge, cabinets and counters. The center of it all, and the first thing to be completed though was the tree. Ours was always an artificial tree allegedly because a cut tree would have bothered my mother's allergies. I now suspect she didn't want to vacuum up evergreen droppings all year.

My husband thinks a real, cut tree is the only way to go. I prefer it as well. That's not a problem. The problem is with the timeliness. I wanted it up a week ago. He'd be happy to wait until Christmas Eve. Over the years, we've battled this difference many different ways. I'd started with the rest of the decorating or the trimmings would sit on the dining room table as a reproach until we did it together. Twice I just refused to wait and bought an articial tree. Apparently fate agrees with my husband, and we lost both artificial trees in a storage building fire. One year, in a fit of Christmas pique that has yet to be topped, I threw a cut tree out the front door after trying for five hours to get the darn thing to stand up.

This year, my husband surprised me. I hadn't quite gotten to the level of nagging. Yesterday, I heard the door open, followed by huffing, puffing, wheezing and coughing. I heard him plop into "his" chair and went in to see what was wrong. He was covered in dirt and sweating despite the sub-freezing temperatures. When I asked if he was okay and why he was so worn out, he just pointed out the front window. There was my Christmas tree, a tall, full crooked cedar with a big bald patch that will tuck nicely into the corner. His energy shot for the day, the tree was propped against our porch railing. This afternoon, we'll cut a little more from the trunk, trim off the bare branches and decorate it together as a family.

The wreath has been on the door, and the electric candles are in the window. Garland is on the window frames and other decorations are already in their place. Like my mother, I want to have something in every room. The centerpiece is finally here, and my house can finally feel like Christmas.


Blogger Solitary Dancer said...

How sweet. I can imagine the wonderful smell all through your house. Real trees are heavenly to smell.

December 11, 2005 2:52 PM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

We went out yesterday to search for the ONE real tree (of the five) that we still erect in the living room. Earlier in the day, we had visited the "upscale" store that sells fancy artificial trees...the one I liked cost $1200. Um...nope.

None of the real trees we saw looked like they would hold all my ornaments. They were too tall, too short, too full, too bare, too crooked, too flimsy, too heavy, etc. etc. AND I have been feeling increasingly reluctant to kill a living thing for my own pleasure. (As I get older, I just have a harder and harder time killing anything. No slam on anybody else doing it...I just feel bad doing it myslef.)

After spending the whole afternoon going from store to tree lot to store, we ended up with a 9' artificial tree from Lowe's, on sale for $149. We stood it up and "fluffed" it last night, and we'll decorate it when my sisters come up to visit next weekend. I think it will be perfect. But now we need a separate garage just to hold all our Christmas trees! :)

December 11, 2005 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Barb said...

How sweet of your husband to surprise you with a tree. I love Christmas and like having it show in every room of the house too. Thanks for sending me the link to your journal.
love & prayers

December 12, 2005 12:19 AM  
Anonymous sunflowerkat said...

Probably my only regret about converting to Judaism is giving up the Christmas tree and knowing I would never have that treasured collection of special ornaments. I remember how we'd always oooh and aaah over the favorites as we unwrapped them when we were kids. Decorating the tree as a family is really like nothing else....and incredibly special time.

December 12, 2005 2:10 AM  
Blogger V said...

Cyn, you finally got him trained!
Seriously, I really enjoyed your sharing!

December 12, 2005 3:17 AM  
Blogger Gabreael said...

What a nice surprise.


December 12, 2005 12:07 PM  
Blogger Judith HeartSong said...

I am so happy for you.

December 12, 2005 1:10 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

That was sweet of him to surprise you with a tree. My mother decorated for every holiday, so like you, on Thanksgiving night I switch on the outdoor lights and start on the inside decorating.

December 12, 2005 3:51 PM  

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