Christmas is almost here and there is no avoiding it. Especially with my daughters, who are three and five, right in that sweet spot where they both know what’s going on and both know that now is the time to start being good for Santa, lest they end up with stockings full of empty beer bottles on Christmas morning.
Lately, a typical Christmas conversation around our house has been something like this:
Me: OK, Maddo [who also turns five three days before Christmas]…What would you like Santa to bring you this year?
Maddo: WelI, I…WANTACINDERELLABARBIEANARIELBARBIEAPRINCESSBARBIE
[Translation: She wants more dolls that will have their clothes ripped off and their hair looking like in James Brown’s famous mugshot within 20 minutes of being opened Christmas morning. And she wants to watch Netflix, too.]
And then there is Little Sis, who just turned three.
Me: Alright, Little Sis, what do you want from Santa?
Little Sis: SANTA! DADDY! SANTA! OOOOOHHH! SANTA!
Well, maybe she hasn’t quite figured things out. But they both know something’s up. There’s a reason why they each can now get an M&M out of the Advent Calendar that is made out of Santa’s body every night without repercussions or fear about sugar rotting their teeth out. The rules get thrown by the wayside, somewhat, when Santa’s arrival is on the horizon.
And along with Advent Calendars, Santa coming down the chimney and “A Charlie Brown Christmas“, there is something else that really says “Christmas” and that is the Christmas tree.
Now I love a big, tall Christmas tree. And we have a pretty high ceiling and open space in our living room, so playing host to a giant tree isn’t that big of a deal. And since I drive a huge Dodge Ram 1500 quad cab truck with a 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi of an engine that’s capable of [figuratively, anyway] transporting something that wouldn’t be out of place at Rockefeller Center, bringing a big tree home isn’t a problem at all.
Getting it up and decorated is another matter.
I think we all have been there. We make it through Thanksgiving and thoughts immediately turn to getting the Christmas Tree. We then go out and stagger through parking lots that overnight have been turned into mini-forests and try to navigate around more cars than there are plowing through Manhattan in an effort to find that just-right perfect representation of Christmas that will sit in our living rooms and shed pine needles for the better part of month. That is, if you can bring yourself to pull the trigger on paying $70 for an eight-foot noble fir. In which case, that fern in the corner at home starts looking more Yuletide by the moment.
Christmas is crazy enough without putting off getting the tree. On top of doing up all the traditional Christmas stuff, our older daughter, Maddo, conveniently has her birthday on Dec. 22. Which is why in my house, we decided this year to find the tree before November was over.
I wrote a bit here about the insanity that went down when we got our Christmas tree last year. [Yes, we got a very good price in the end, but I would have traded that extra ten bucks off to not have gone through the near-coronary to get there.] Thus, I was close to Ebenezer Scrooge mode as we loaded up the kids and I envisioned what awaited me at the tree lot this time around.
I was expecting the type of Black Friday brawl you hear about occurring at Wal-Mart when the irresistible force of 500 shoppers meet the immovable object of a mountain of $45 Blu-Ray players. Actually, I was expecting something even more violent, as our three-year-old daughter, Little Sis, had fallen asleep in her car seat within six seconds of us leaving home, and she was still out when we arrived at the CVS tree lot. When she wakes up from a nap in the car, it is not unlike a Great White shark attacking a buffet of seals out by the Farallon Islands.
My wife and I decided to take turns checking out the trees, each of us taking Maddo to look at the selection for a few minutes. Yeah, everything was fine, but…As I mentioned that $70
8-foot Noble Fir earlier, we just couldn’t do it. Not without visiting at least one other tree lot. And that is how we ended up back at our local Lucky grocery store, the scene of last year’s tree debacle, and eventual victory.
I can’t stress this enough: Get your tree EARLY. By going just two days after Thanksgiving, when everybody else was still shoving leftover turkey and stuffing into their faces, we managed to pull right up to the front of the tree display, and I think there were, maybe, three other people checking out the selection.
And Lucky did it right this year: nothing but 8-foot-plus Nobles for $40 a pop. We picked one out, ripped the tag off of it and, since we learned our lesson last year about not trusting any of the store’s staff to not give our tree away, my wife waited while Maddo and I went inside and paid for the beast. One of the guys working out front helped me load the thing into the bed of my truck, I threw him $5 for his trouble, and we were on our way.
Of course, after spending about 20 minutes to saw off a hunk of the trunk, and then dragging it into the tree stand in the living room, we were too tired to decorate it. Plus, the girls needed lunch and then started tormenting each other and then destroyed the living room with a tornado of toys, food and other crap strewn about. By the time we went to bed, the tree was up, but there were no ornaments on it.
We didn’t make much more progress on Sunday, getting only two red balls [which Maddo calls “cherries’] on tree. On Monday, we put the lights on, and then it was time for the girls to go to bed. Finally, Tuesday night, after four days of working on it, the tree, in all of its almost nine-feet of Christmas glory, was done.
And then Little Sis started taking ornaments off. I guess we are going to be re-decorating the tree until we eventually take it down.
Merry Christmas, everyone.