O CHRISTMAS TREE
When it comes to Christmas, I reek of tradition so you can imagine my shock when Rick and I had the following conversation.
We were at our friends Christmas party, admiring their tree when Rick turned and with nostalgia dripping from his tongue, said. “See how nice it is to have a real Christmas tree. It smells so good.”
I was wearing flats so I had to poke him in the ribs to get him to look down at me so I could glare at him. “Are you kidding me? I’m not the one who wanted a fake tree.”
“Well, it certainly wasn’t my idea.” he smiled and walked towards the food.
It must be nice to be him and be able to eat after telling such a whopper. Was it possible he had caught some virus that had wiped from his memory our trauma drama Christmas tree traditions?
First was the nagging; days turned into weeks as I tried to get him to set a date that was convenient with him and when the whole family could come together to get the tree; preferably, some time before the season ended. Rick runs on his own calendar; one with endless days of about forty-five hours each.
After we got the tree we waited another eternity for him to get the stand built. A store bought one was somehow never big enough.
Thanks to his mother, he entertained us with a tradition from his childhood. Once the tree was up, we were privileged to wait until the wee hours of the morning for him to drill holes and wire branches into perceived blank spots for the perfectly shaped tree.
Every year I envisioned a happy little family like the kind they have on TV, all smiling over cups of hot chocolate and cider while we strung popcorn and cranberries.
By the time I finished untangling the lights and the kids were swimming in hot chocolate, and running through the popcorn blizzard that had blown through the house, Rick was tired and ready to hang himself with the lights. Forget about hanging them on the tree.
It was a darn safe bet that I wasn’t going to climb up and down on a chair three thousand times trying to hang them when he was tall enough to reach the top of the tree with little effort. Who asked him to be Michael Angelo and sculpt the dang thing anyway?
When the tree was finally decorated Rick took up the roll of nagging. Everyday I was grilled about the dangers of fire. Did I water the tree? Was I sure? Did I know how thirsty a tree was? How do I know the dog didn’t drink the water? No, I was smaller and closer to the ground than he was so it was obviously my job to check the water level.
The nagging never stopped. Did I have to have the lights on all day long? Had I checked to see if the needles were breaking in half yet? Then, to prove that he was the more annoying of the two of us he would jab me in the ribs just as I was dozing off to be sure I had turned the outside lights off too.
Of course I had turned off the lights, which, by the way,I had strung at great pesonal peril, all by myself. However, I had to haul myself out of bed so his highness could get enough sleep to build up enough energy to contine the strenous act of working his jaws the next day.
On a good year we enjoyed these festivities for two to three weeks before the ‘when do we take the tree down’ party began.
I wanted it gone the day after New Years. Rick was all for two days after Christmas. Apparently that was the day the needles all fell off and the tree was practically a stick.
We usually ended up pulling the decorations off the naked branches the morning of New Years Eve.
Our tree traditions always ended with Rick wading through the pine needles and badgering me on how we should get a fake tree while I nagged him for the next several months about just when he was going to take the tree off the front lawn and to the dump.
Maybe he is right. We should get a real tree. I miss those traditions.