This year, we have a Christmas tree.
Or, if you prefer, a holiday spruce. A December fir, an equinox evergreen, or a vertical yuletide log — frankly, I don’t give a damn what you call it. I’ve got better things to do than stand on ceremony over the semantics of a set of seasonal traditions that don’t make any damned sense in the first place. You got a name for the thing, then knock yourself out. Whatever gets your yule log vertical, I always say.
And just for the record, if you can find yourself some frankincense and swaddling clothes and wrap them around a leafy shrub somewhere, then yes, that would probably qualify as a baby Jesus tree. But if you think there were shepherds tending evergreens full of ceramic bulbs and blinky colored lights back in Bethlehem a couple of millennia ago, then you’ve been snorting the wrong eggnog.
(And if you’ve been ‘correcting’ people who wish you ‘happy holidays’, then you should probably switch to decaf while you’re at it. Personally, I’ll take any sunny seasonal sentiment I can get. And anything short of ‘Hey, asshole, what’re you lookin’ at?‘ pretty much qualifies.
Which is more than I’m likely to get when seeing the family over the holiday break. ‘Ho ho ho,’ indeed.)
Anyway, as usual, very little of that is actually the point. The point is, whatever you want to call it, there’s currently a dead-and-slowly-browning six-foot balsam fir tree in my living room, covered in lights and balls and shiny baubles. And it creeps me out a little bit.
You see, this is the first ‘real’ tree I’ve had in… well, ever, maybe. I have these vague recollections of childhood Christmases, with a piney scent wafting about and bits of tree scattered through the house. But I may just be remembering the visits from my uncle Jack. He liked to hit the gin, for one thing, and we often speculated that he lived somewhere in the woods outside of town. Or at least spent a lot of nights there. Good old uncle Jack.
During my teen years, my parents kept a plastic tree that they trotted out every year and decorated with tinsel and bows. Which seemed very odd to me — and I didn’t even know what Ann Taylor was back then. Apparently, our holidays were preppy before their time. The Old Navy crew today would be proud. Guh.
Since then, the wife and I have had a plastic ‘tree’ of our own that we’ve put up every year. Though put ‘up‘ is a bit of a misnomer, since the ‘tree’ is only two-and-a-half feet tall. One string of lights would go around the thing approximately nineteen times, with plenty left over to drag around the base, over a doorway, and around the ceiling for a bit. On the bright side, we saved on ornaments, since any more than three plastic balls and a gingerbread man would topple the damned thing over. Sturdy, our tree was not.
So this year, the wife talked me into the real thing. I have to admit — it looks far better than our sad little plastic number from years past. And we’d somehow accumulated enough tree swag to make the thing look respectable, if not quite fully decked out. But I’m still not quite used to having a real, recently-live tree in the house. It just seems odd to me.
First of all, I’ve always heard that live trees are fire hazards. Now, I’m sure I heard this from someone like my mother, who tends to be a tad overcautious in these areas. To say she spends her life ‘on the safe side’ is like suggesting that Anna Nicole Smith is ‘on the busty side’. Or ‘a teensy bit ditzy’. Or ‘leaning in the direction of white trash’. You get the general idea.
Still, some of that ‘blazing tree’ paranoia must’ve rubbed off, because I was very concerned about bringing the tree into our house. I even stayed up the first two nights with it, fire extinguisher at the ready. On the third night, I dozed off. Then the phone rang, woke me up, I panicked, and accidentally foamed the dog. So now we’ve got no extinguisher, but I’m pretty sure the pooch is fire-retardant to three hundred degrees or so.
Meanwhile, I’m learning to live with the bit of nature that’s invaded our home. And I suppose it is better than inviting a pack of squirrels in, or stacking raccoon carcasses on the floor and calling it ‘festive’. And if no woodpeckers or fire ants or loud, indignant conservationists have crawled out of the thing by now, then they’re probably not going to. But I’m watching it, just in case.
Only this time, I’ve got the baseball bat. Just make sure the phone and the pooch aren’t in the room with me at the same time. I think one holiday-themed doggy disaster is plenty enough for one year.Permalink | 5 Comments