We are not The Waltons. Nor are we The Cleavers. We do not resemble any family ever seen in one of Norman Rockwell’s paintings. Our family is more The Griswalds meet Martha Stewart wannabes. Oh, we have high hopes ever year when the holidays roll around, but somewhere between the pictures in my mind and the pictures that make it into the camera, things begin to go wrong. Take the four tree Christmas as the perfect example of high hopes meet stark reality.
For all of the years that we had been married, DH and I had never resorted to a life-like but fake Christmas tree. We like fresh trees, and gladly accept the responsibility and problems associated with this living symbol of the holiday season. This year was going to be special. It was to be the year of the truly live tree. For weeks I had been inundated with ads espousing the benefits of a live, balled, tree that could be planted in the yard when the holidays were a thing of the past. I was hooked after the first barrage of propaganda. I did my research, found the nurseries that offered these environmentally friendly, pleasant smelling trees and set out to secure one for our house.
At the nursery, I was escorted to the parking place where the little yellow wagons were kept. I pulled one behind me as I trudged up and down the lot looking for the perfect tree. It wasn’t long before I found it. The tree was about my height, had delicate branches and came with a guarantee. I found one of the nurserymen to haul the thing to the car, and then paid more for the tree than my family’s portion of the national debt.
Once home I waited for DH to move it from the car to the house. I first had to find plastic to put down to protect the carpet. He placed the tree on the plastic and the children began to decorate. When they were done it was worthy of a spot in the Christmas tree hall of fame. For the next 3 days the tree was happy in our house and we were happy with the tree. On the fourth day when I sat down on the couch beside the tree I felt needle like pains in my legs. I stood up, ran my hand over the couch. When I lifted my hand to the light, I saw a vague resemblance to a porcupine. I had found the source of the pain. The environmentally friendly, pleasant smelling tree, was dropping needles everywhere. On the couch. On the carpet. On the presents under the tree. These needles had harpoon like ends and were stuck so well that my super sucker vacuum cleaner could not dislodge them. When I touched the burlap ball of the tree, I felt nothing but dryness – not a good thing for a living tree. Who knew that living trees, inside a house, still needed water?
I discovered this while DH was at work and the children were at school. Not wanting to disappoint the children, I decided to remove the tree and replace it before they arrived home. This meant un-decorating the tree, removing it from the house, securing a new tree and decorating it, all in a matter of 2 hours. I worked madly getting rid of the now needleless, environmentally friendly, pleasant smelling, balled tree, then scurried to the local Christmas tree lot to buy a new one. Back home. Set up the tree. Decorate. I was just putting the presents under the tree when the children arrived. They didn’t notice a thing. DH only new about the demise of the first tree because he had to cart it to the street so it could be moved to its final resting place.
Tree number two lasted four days before the limbs began to droop. I gave it water. Even added bleach, as suggested by the DJs on the radio. I should have realized something was amiss when the tree began to change colors from dark green to pale blonde. Somehow I had missed the correct recipe of a gallon of water, 2 cups of Karo syrup, 2 ounces of liquid bleach, 2 pinches of Epsom Salt, ½ teaspoon of boraxo and 1 teaspoon of chelated iron. Guess a gallon of bleach was not the right amount. (Just for reference, I don’t know how much a pinch is, don’t know where to get boraxo and don’t even know what chelated iron is or if it’s legal to say that word on the radio. Sounds very much like cheating to me.)
Tree number two left our home much like tree number one – in a hurry and before the family could discover its demise. On to tree number three – a nice hardy pine. From the south, f From the backyard – it was closer and cheaper. It, at least, would be used to my care of trees, or should I say lack of care for trees. Out with tree number two, in with tree number three, all in less than two hours. In another tree or two, I would be ready for the pit stop challenge of decorating trees. In and out in under 10 minutes. I could definitely win.
Tree number three was gone before Christmas. I wanted to make sure it would not suffer the same fate as tree number one or tree number two when it entered my house so I placed it in a five gallon plastic bucket and gave it plenty to drink. I did not remember to allow for drainage. Living things can only consume a certain amount of liquid. Tree number three drowned.
An expert now in the changing of trees, I removed tree number three, drove to the nearest K-Mart, purchased the cheapest fake tree, took it home, assembled it, decorated it and placed the presents beneath the tree. It survived until Christmas. As I passed out the presents on Christmas morning, DH and the children asked what happened to the environmentally friendly, pleasant smelling, burlap balled tree, known to me as tree number one. Somehow it just wasn’t worth the trouble of an explanation.
© 2005 Wanda M. Argersinger
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