Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why We have an Artificial Tree

I got tagged for a blog chain, which means I write about something that has something to do with what the last person wrote about in her blog (Thanks Ello!), she wrote about Christmas shopping and it's traditional insanity. I decided to go with the insanity that comes from getting the Tree...

When we first got married, we lived in New York City and had a dinky little cute live tree for our first Christmas. When we lived in a bigger apartment in Houston, we decorated the live ficus tree. When we moved to Maryland, we finally decided, we’d get a real Christmas tree. It was a very snowy winter and my husband had found a “Cut Your Own Tree” place, meaning we’d pay for the privilege of doing all the work.

It was a crystal clear star filled evening as my husband, young son and I marched through the rows of carefully tended evergreens to find “Our tree.”
Finally, the right amount of bushiness, greenness and tallness had been agreed upon, and the fun of welding an ax began.

For the first five minutes that one holds an ax, there are simultaneous sensations in the experience. There is the thrill of having a very sharp weapon (I can take on a bear!) and terror that somehow, someone is going to get hurt and you’re holding the ax. (Oh look, a bear!)

Chopping Wood looks like clean organized manly work. There is a rhythm to splitting wood, to chopping trees, and all the movies and fairy tales indicate that this is something men do with aplomb when not rescuing women from prisons or wizards or castles or something. My husband swung the ax. It hit the tree.

A little physics lesson here. Force must be distributed. Hitting a tree is like having a car accident with a tree. The force travels up the ax, into your hands and wrists and even jars your teeth if your feet are not set. Okay. We set the feet. We swing like a baseball player. Chop. Chop. Chop.

See, it’s easy. Well, it’s easy to watch. Then we watch. Watching someone chop down a tree is…dull. “It’s cold.” My son whines (He’s three). He’s right but I’m trying to stay with the mood here. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. It is taking a very long time. The wind blows. Chop. Chop. “Can I have a go?”

“Sure.” I should have recognized the eagerness in his voice as a trigger. He picked up our son. “I’m going to go see the man about the rope. “

“You’re not going to watch?” I mean, I’m sure watching me chop wood is riveting viewing. Isn’t it?

“Well, we don’t want to be here all night.” He explained diplomatically.

“Point taken.”

I line up my feet. I square my shoulders. Chop. I missed the spot. Chop. Chop. I almost got it. Chop. This hurts. Chop. Chop. My feet are cold. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. I’m stuck. The ax is stuck. I’m stuck. It’s really stuck. I’m afraid to pull it out. I’m stuck here in the snow waiting. Now the tree seems less perfect to me.

I stare at it hard. Something stares back. There are spiders. Christmas spiders in my tree. We’re done. I’m done. I follow the snow prints. “Pay the man to cut down the tree.” I bark when I get back to the stand.

My husband is one step ahead, he’s already paid them and of course, the guy goes out there with a chain saw. “Where is the ambience in that?” I ask you?

Telling my husband about the spiders, he assures me that the spiders will be driven out of the tree by the drive on the freeway. I admittedly didn’t inspect but prayed he was right.

The tree wouldn’t fit in our front door so I ruined a good electric carving knife cutting it down to size. I mean it’s kind of like a chain saw and I didn’t own an ax. I freaked when one of the tree’s eight legged citizens came onto my hand as I cut. “You told me they’d be blown away.” We spent a few nervous minutes –all either of us could tolerate, searching for more arachnids. I issued a proclamation to any remaining squatters. “Attention spiders! No mercy unless you can spell in your web: Peace on Earth!”

Finally, it was up, watered, decorated to within an inch of its life and glistening. I breathed a sigh of Christmas contentment. The tree listed. Then it fell. We picked it up, swept the floor of broken glass ornaments, redecorated and reattached the tree to the stand. It fell again.

My husband drove to a local store that was open late while I put our son to bed. He returned with a larger stand and we rerepotted the tree in the stand and screwed in the sides tight. He put a brick inside the stand to give the stand a fighting chance against the tree. It fell a third time. It was Christmas and our tree was imitating the Stations of the Cross.

And so we had our first REAL Christmas, like so many families before us, where the tree was propped by fishing line at the top to ensure that Old Tanembaum with it’s lovely branches wouldn’t crush our son as he admired the remaining ornaments. I told him the spider webs were just an organic form of tinsel.

Merry Christmas!


Virginia Lee said...

I told him the spider webs were just an organic form of tinsel.

Bwah! And ewwwwwww! Christmas tree spiders! That's all kinds of wrong, Sherry, but truly funny too. Well, as long as it is happening to someone other than ME! :D

Excellent story. And a fun one to follow.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Ok Sherry, now that's a great Christmas tree story! And exactly why we aso have artificial trees! I had always thought I would want a real tree when I finally had my own place (cause growing up in NYC - we only ever had artificial ones) but the first time I went over to a friend's house and saw the bug infestated tree they had, was the last time I wanted a real one.

Awesome story!

Williebee said...

Great story!

Next year you'll have it figured out. The tree will stand up tall and straight. Then you need a cat. Cat's love Christmas trees -- twinkly lights, sparkly ornaments, glittery gifts underneath.... Ooh, and that special silver tinsel that makes such attractive shiny hairballs!

And they love to play lumberjack. Climb to the top of the tree and scream timber! as they ride the tree down across where your darling spouse is napping on the couch. (At least, I think it was timber. There was a lot of screaming going on, so I'm not absolutely sure.)

VirtualWordsmith said...

For me, it isn't Christmas without a live tree, but I certainly understand the attraction for artificial ones. And as for spiders, I just blogged about spiders and Christmas at http://extraordinarymagic.blogspot.com. Think tinsel. :)

Anonymous said...

After an experience like that... I'd probably stick to an artificial tree too.

I cheat. When I spend the money on a real tree I just drive down to the local church and buy one that has already been cut down. I think they must chase the spiders out for me also.. because I have never seen a Christmas spider.

Trees have gotten so expensive lately that I stick to artificial. I miss the gorgeous smell of a real tree, but I think it is highway robbery to charge upwards of $75 for a decent Christmas tree.

Your post was hysterical. Thanks for the fun read. :-)

Arachne Jericho said...

Christmas spiders are so wrong. I thought they were supposed to die when it got cold. Ick!

This was hilarious!

Go artificial trees!

Kate Boddie said...

Thus another reason why I will always have an artificial tree. Three pieces, pre-lit and an evergreen reed diffuser. You can't go wrong with that.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Okay, between you and Lee Ann, with her story of the tree crying out in pain, I'm definitely going artificial for-ev-ah!!!

Anonymous said...

This is one of those stories that simulaneously makes me sad I'm Jewish and deeply relieved I'm Jewish. I shall never, ever, ever experience Christmas spiders.

Unknown said...

Artificial trees rock because you don't have to worry about bugs or allergic reactions.

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