I put my Christmas tree up earlier this month and it only took almost an e-n-t-i-r-e day. Yep, from sun up to sun down I was messing with that tree. I have no one to blame but myself and my mother. Oh, yes most definitely my mother. The woman was a virtuoso with Christmas trees.
As a floral designer she would decorate people’s homes for the holidays and my Texas mother had a go big or go home rallying cry as her Christmas tree adornment strategy. Basically, if you could still see pine needles you’re doing it wrong.
Her trees were abundantly decked out and she prided herself on everything from light placement – white lights only and those bad boys better be fastidiously wrapped around the tree trunk and then worked through the branches to give the effect of a “gossamer fairy woodlands” to ornaments that should only be attached to the tree with a velvet or satin ribbon.
Showing my mom an aluminum ornament hanger was like throwing garlic at a vampire – sheer horror.
Because I am my mother’s daughter I have tried to live up to her tree décor standards. This means I’m a Christmas tree control freak that has managed to take the fun out of decorating the tree for probably a good 20 years.
Almost every December my husband, in a brave move, tries to “reset” my Christmas tree OCD, by suggesting a new tradition. This year he gently floated the idea that we should think about getting an artificial tree.
I, being a mature woman, humored him and even consented to looking at some phony trees. This resulted in me getting weepy in the fake tree forest at Lowe’s and asking him, “Why he hated me?”
Although the small scene I created at Lowe’s was nothing compared to the Great Christmas Tree Caper of 2006. This was when my husband decided we needed to go full “Griswold” and cut down our own tree.
Back then we lived in Northern Nevada where cutting down a tree was pretty standard. All you needed was a permit from the Forest Service and a saw. Then off you trek into the mountain wilderness in a quest to find the perfect tree and hopefully not get mauled by a 600-pound black bear, which is a personal fear of mine.
My family didn’t share my bear terror. In fact, they mocked it. My son, then 10, told me as we hiked up a trail searching for the “perfect” tree that I would get eaten by a bear first because I was the slowest and “meatiest” member of the family.
I didn’t doubt this at all which heightened my anxiety that was already extremely exacerbated due to the lackluster tree selection. One would think that there would be a veritable smorgasbord of trees to chose from but the Bureau of Land Management in their infinite wisdom only let you cut down the Pinyon -nature’s least attractive pine.
Gnarly, needle challenged and lacking symmetry this tree is more of a Christmas don’t then a do. But I knew if we went through the ritual of cutting one down then I was going to be stuck with a stubby, balding tree that resembled George Constanza from “Seinfeld” for the centerpiece of my holiday decorations.
This meant there was only one thing to do – scream “BEAR” and force my family to evacuate the forest.
It worked like a charm. Panic ensued, we raced for the car, hauled back to civilization and got our tree from a nursery that specialized in majestic fresh cut Fraser Firs.
I’d like to think I made my mother proud that day.