Tuesday, December 16, 2008

True tales of trees past

Oh, Christmas tree how I love you. How I’m willing to torture family members to get you...
This year was no different (This post is for you Ken)...

We finally made it to the lot on Sunday. I was feeling antsy. I need a tree. I need a good tree, a perfectly shaped tree, one that is about 7 feet 6 inches tall and about 5 to 6 feet wide at the bottom. I am specific in my tree needs. This is the maximum amount of Christmas tree I can fit into our living room. We’ve lived here almost 14 years and hard experience has brought me to this knowledge (and my husband tries desperately to keep me in line).

I have purchased a 14 footer and stuck it in the entrance way of the house -- the only place with a high enough ceiling once Dean removed the hanging light-- but the ornaments blow off every time you open the front door. And it wasn’t easy having to go through the kitchen every time you wanted to go to the living room. And when you sat on the couch you could only see just over half of the tree.

My mother refuses to shop for a tree with me. My brothers mock it. My friends tell stories of times they have been caught up in it.

The aforementioned Ken used to keep himself and his truck available when he knew we were tree shopping. It was just easier that way when he had to come rescue us and our tree. Ken has moved to Colorado so it takes a little more commitment on his part.

I have been offered 20 bucks and a tree to leave a tree lot. I know a good deal. I took it. That tree was a beautiful Scottish pine.

We’ve had Nordmam pines, Fraser firs, Grand firs, Noble firs, Monterey pines and the dependable Douglas fir.

There was the year I bought three trees. Dean returned the first one (yes, they will give you a refund). The second we gave to a friend. It was a beautifully shaped tree but too skinny. I thought I could live with it, but I couldn’t. I was miserable. When our friend Art told me he trimmed three inches from the top, I nearly cried. I’m still a little upset.

The year I was offered cash to leave a tree lot was the first year Dean (and Ken) went with me to get a tree. Poor man. He had no idea what he was getting into.

The tree was for my family’s home. I was just home from Prague. We got the cash and the tree and headed home. This was before they put the stand on the tree for you so my mom handed Dean the stand and wished him luck. She retreated to the kitchen.

My lazy brothers stood in the kitchen with my mother laughing. They knew what Dean must have just been through at the lot (looking at tree after tree after tree after tree in search of the perfect one). Being just a boyfriend, Dean was low man on the totem pole and my brothers were enjoying the torture.

When Dean asked for something to whittle the tree trunk down a little to fit it into the tree stand, my mother handed him a steak knife.

He gallantly worked at it for an hour or so before he got the tree in the stand and upright.

Meanwhile Ken had planted himself on the couch and my father was giving him beers. Lots of beers. Pretty soon my dad and Ken were laughing like old buddies, slapping each other on the back, and my dad had nicknamed Ken “Fast Kenny.” He promised him his own engraved mug and a permanent spot on the couch.

My dad kept saying,”Joi, I really like Fast Kenny. You should go out with him.”

Thanks Dad, but I think my boyfriend who is sitting on the floor whittling our Christmas tree with a steak knife might object.

Why did Dean not run away?

Our first Christmas tree as a married couple written up in the local paper.

We went to the local cut-down-your-tree lot. We wandered around this huge field of trees. It was like heaven. Tree after tree after tree available for inspection. I asked friends to stand in front of potential trees until I found the perfect one.

It was a beauty. Only thing was we didn’t really think about the size. We were young and in love. We had just gotten married and returned from a honeymoon in Italy. We weren’t seeing anything straight.

We cut down that tree and we lugged it to the booth to pay. And then when we went to put it on the car ...

We drove a Civic. We tossed that tree up there and that’s when we got an inkling of what was to come: the tree was longer than the car. It hung off the front. It hung off the back.

Hmmmm. Did this stop us? No. The Civic is a compact. How long could it really be? 9 feet?

We lugged the tree up a flight of stairs to our condo (thank you again Ken). We put it in a stand. It almost touched our 14 foot ceiling. Almost touched, no room for a star, but it made it into the house. Yahoo!

Then we started to cut the netting off...

Whoooooooooosh! The netting tore and the tree limbs sprang out. Tim swears a squirrel ran out.

The tree reached from one end of the 8 -foot sliding door to the other end. It was wall-to-wall tree in the living room. It was AWESOME.

And then it fell over.

Thank God there were no small children or animals around. They would have been crushed.

We tried another stand and another stand. Eventually, we nailed a stand to a giant piece of plywood and anchored the tree to the walls to keep it upright.

We decorated only the front of the tree. We couldn’t get around it, and truthfully, we couldn’t afford any more ornaments.

To get the ornaments at the top of the tree, Dean had to get on Ken’s shoulders. Apparently, a ladder wasn’t one of the wedding gifts.

Which brings me to this year: The boys really wanted to cut down their tree. So we carefully picked a tree, noting its height and width (I must stay it is almost exactly 7 foot 6 inches by 5 feet). Weren’t we smart?

Not so much. My husband who had surgery just a month ago starts sawing and sawing and sawing...

The kids and I try to help, but we can’t even get the saw to budge. Dean realizes he doesn’t want to include a trip to the ER with saw wounds so he takes over again.

He’s sawing and sawing. Are we sure the blade is even remotely sharp?

It’s dark by the time we decide to tackle the tree. Yes, tackle the tree.

Dean lined up and knocked it flat. Then Neil jumped on it. I had heart palpitations. Not because I thought they would get hurt, I just didn’t want the tree damaged.

We got it home without incident. Even got it standing in the living room with lights and ornaments and ribbon.

The tree is perfect. It smells fabulous. And the house feels like Christmas.

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