Christmas Tree Crisis “BEARly” Averted

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.

Thanksgiving Is Getting the Shaft

What happened to Thanksgiving? I feel like it has become the fruitcake of holidays. Sure, it’s a day everybody acknowledges and celebrates but it’s not something you’re that passionate about.

It seems like more and more Thanksgiving has become a roadblock to December 25. An event to mark off your to do list, to get through, even endure, so you can go back to celebrating the holiday Thanksgiving interrupted – Christmas.

I’ve seen this slowly happening for the last decade and then about two years ago it seems that Thanksgiving got a real kick to the curb. It used to be that someone putting up a Christmas tree right after Halloween was considered eccentric. Now it’s not out of the norm.

Years ago I surrendered my angst about Christmas decorations going up in retail establishments in October but I never thought homes would be all ho, ho, ho’d right after the last Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup had been handed out for trick-or-treat.

Even the Hallmark Channel known for its very traditional take on the holidays has abandoned any sense of turkey day decorum. This year for the first time in their almost 20 year history the channel went 24/7 on Christmas movies starting on October 25. Et tu Hallmark, et tu?

I’m telling you it’s the equivalent of getting Santa Claus’s blessing to go full Christmas before you even shop for a Halloween costume. It’s shocking to me and I think very rude to Thanksgiving, mean girl even.

It’s like Christmas is the disco ball of holidays and Thanksgiving is a 20-watt light bulb sitting all alone in the middle school cafeteria.

This makes me sad and has emboldened me to start a movement. I’m going to call “I’m With Thanksgiving.” People should rise up and support this day of reflection, gratitude and gluttony because Thanksgiving needs its spotlight back!

And I mean real spotlight not some half-hearted effort to give the holiday a shout out – Thanksgiving poinsettia I’m talking to you.

If you haven’t seen the Thanksgiving themed poinsettia at your grocery store let me educate you on this insult to floral, fauna and good taste.

The plant is either the color of a sweet potato casserole that appears to have gone bad or worse watered down gravy made with a powder mix that would send your great grandmother spinning in her grave. It’s desecrated even further with chunks of gold glitter.

I don’t know whose idea this was but it needs to go down as one of the worst floral trends ever. Surpassing even those gigantic Texas homecoming mums. In fact I might start another movement called “Free the Poinsettia” because just like Thanksgiving this plant deserves so much better.

Can anyone please tell me why have we forsaken Thanksgiving? To me it doesn’t make sense because Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday.

It’s a judgment free zone to stuff yourself senseless and just like a good piece of chocolate pecan pie it needs to be savored not overlooked and rushed through as a prelude to Black Friday sales.

Tomorrow I urge all of you to help me take Thanksgiving back to its glory days. Really dig in and enjoy the holiday. Surrender Santa and focus on the turkey. Relish those mashed potatoes with real butter and form an intimate relationship with the only true stuffing – cornbread.

You’ll know when you’ve achieved Thanksgiving nirvana. It’s when the waistband of your pants has gotten uncomfortably tight and yet, like a true champion, you power through another piece of pie. A day like this should be heralded not given a poinsettia so unattractive it has the power to turn you right off your mom’s green bean casserole.