The Trials And Tribulations Of The Family Christmas Tree
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The Trials And Tribulations Of The Family Christmas Tree

A short story.

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The Trials And Tribulations Of The Family Christmas Tree
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So, you know, it’s Christmas time. You’ve got to have a tree. Trees are important to Christmas. It’s tradition, and all that. Memories, growing up. Kids love Christmas Trees, at least the little ones do. Setting it up, unwrapping the ornaments from their hastily wrapped, tissue paper cocoons that Dad did sometime in early January when he couldn’t stand looking at the thing anymore. Hanging them from the limbs, hoping they don’t drop and break with a crash that seems to drown out the third rotation of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” playing on the radio. Christmas Trees are beautiful when they’re all finished. Just beautiful.

See, normally we use a fake tree. It’s a tall, itchy, some assembly required, pre-lit plastic monstrosity that just barely fits under the ceiling. Seems you spend more time twisting each of its fake branches into what we think resembles a realistic shape than you do decorating it. It’s a puzzle, too! Scratching up your arms as you reach between its fronds to find the plugs for each section of lights. They all plug into each other, you see, a task you do blind lest these needles scratch you in the face. It’s been years since they all lit up. One year, oh 6 or so ago, I spent what felt like days of pained fingers pulling and switching each bulb to find the offender that kept the strand dark. Never found it. Just turned that side towards the wall. But hey, it’s our tree. Our fake Christmas Tree, and we knew what to expect from it. It’ll need replacing next year.

Since I knew we’d be replacing it, I figured why not let the family experience a real live Christmas Tree for once. None of the children ever had, and it’s something you can’t fake. So, we did! We borrowed a truck, we went to the Home Depot to buy our tree. Didn’t want the Costco trees, even though they were half the price. They only carried Douglas. No one wants a Douglas… well I guess some do, they sell a lot of them. So, we picked out a tree. A nice, 7 or so foot tall Nobel Fir. Smelled great, and got my wife’s white shirt dirty. Must be fresh, then, right? $75 and a Home Depot guy with an electric chainsaw later, it was loaded in the truck. Let me back up… Have you ever seen this amazing contraption that re-nets the trees? They pull them trunk end first through a metal hoop that somehow wraps a plastic net around the tree nice and tight. Never seen such a thing! Anyway… Fresh Nobel Fir arrives at its hospice home and it’s time to get it into the stand. You only have about an hour from chainsaw guy to water in the stand, so we had to hurry. Ever seen someone try and hang a picture by eye? A little this way, no that way, wait too far… right there! I think we made it in the hour… maybe. Probably not, but pretty close.

You know what the thing with real trees is? They’re real! It’s a plant, it puts off smell and such. As soon as that tree was standing in our living room, kids started sneezing. Eh, take an allergy pill. We have a real Christmas Tree! Isn’t that pine smell great? Ok, just deal with it then. Time to string the lights! Get started on that babe while I bring in the ornament box from the garage! An hour later, she’s not amused. At least it isn’t scratchy like that fake one, right babe? Still not amused. Hey kids, time for the ornaments! They only broke two or three we can’t ever replace this year… not totally their fault. Real branches don’t hold ornaments as well as fake, wire ones. Oh, it looked so good when it was done! I can just imagine the little memories being created. Good ones, I hope. She said we should not do this again next year… aww, c’mon babe…

Water! Water is kind of critical for Christmas Trees. Everyone agrees they are thirsty buggers the first couple of days. I was so ready for that, like taking care of a new pet or something. I was there with the water two or three times the next day. Tree didn’t drink though. Not all day. Next day, not really. I’m worried, I’m researching. Do I have to take it all down and recut it? Were we too slow, did the trunk seal back up? Should I drill holes in it? Then, it drank! A bunch, too! Happy tree daddy, here. Maybe he was just… sleeping and had to wake up. Well, I took good care of him, watered him every day as much as he’d drink. He looks great with all those presents underneath!

It’s one week before Christmas… Real Christmas Tree is dead. Needles are dry and brittle, falling off. Stopped drinking water again. Still smells ok, I suppose. But it’s dead. So sad, so guilty feeling. My idea, my attempt at fond memories ruined. I watered it, where did that water go? Why would it die if it drank all that water? Can’t even turn the lights on or risk becoming a tragic Christmas statistic. What a waste. Quite the memory though, I’ll give it that…

Next year, brilliant new, fake tree! LED lights that change color, can run them all day for pennies. No scratchy old plastic branches, no light plug puzzle. Brilliant, beautiful, simple and fake. That’s what works for us, I suppose. Figured a real, live tree was an adventure, something fun. One outta two ain’t bad.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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