Since my last post was titled “I Have a Christmas Dinosaur,” it only made sense to title this one “I Have a Christmas Tree.” Because I do. We trekked into the deep woods, fended off wolves, chopped it down, and hauled it back through ten feet of snow. Because that’s Christmas work.
Actually, we drove down route 1, pulled off into the Giant parking lot, into a makeshift lot of cut trees sold by the Lions’ Club, spent twenty minutes mulling our choices, and had a nice old man tie it to the roof of the car. Don’t laugh. That’s Christmas work, too.
Christmas work is any contribution to making Christmas happen. It’s dressing up in your warmest clothes and poking around the tree lots. It’s the car ride while playing Christmas music. It’s lugging the tree through the front door like a caveman with a trophy carcass. It’s the stringing together of the lights. The messing with the tree stand. The cursing. The fighting.
The thing about putting up a Christmas tree is it always take a turn for the dark. It’s simply the nature of wrangling with A TREE inside of A HOUSE. Trees don’t belong in houses. Right there, you’re messing with an imbalance in the universe. You’re asking for tension. My parents once told me they would have gotten divorced if they never made the switch to a pre-lit plastic tree.
Not that the wife and I have these horrible fights or anything. We’re actually kind of proud of our fights. We consider them the secret to a successful relationship. We don’t let stuff passively simmer. We don’t let it eat away. We throw it all right out in the open. While we’re both balancing a tree in the corner of the room, trying to find the best angle. This just so happens to be the best time to argue about the hallway light bulb.
Basically, I finally got around to changing it. Got the step stool out and everything. But apparently I was careless in throwing the old light bulb out, because it broke when I tossed it in the trashcan. This wouldn’t matter, except the new light bulb was way too bright. I’m talking blinding-light-of-Jesus bright. This was the wife’s fault, who doesn’t know how to pick out light bulbs. It’s those CFL bulbs. They’ve been out forever, but who really understands them? This unfortunately led to the incident of the wife attempting to retrieve the old light bulb out of the trashcan, where she then almost sliced her hand open, circling back to my fault.
This continued to escalate until we reached the topic of mercury contamination in light bulbs and birth defects in our unborn children. But then we found the best angle for the tree and we moved on to putting up the lights and ornaments. Except. Are you sure that was the right angle? There’s a hole in the tree. See it? Right there. No, there. We can cover it up with an ornament. Not that ornament. I hate that ugly thing. Seriously. It’s a pig dressed in a golf outfit. It makes me want to burn it. We could have used a fourth string of lights. There’s too many gaps. This tree is really big. How are we going to walk past it without bumping into it. We’ll just have to move the furniture around. I think I saw a spider. Oh wait, look, I found the extra string of lights. I want to kill everything.
In the end, it’s all worth it because of the smell of real balsam and sap in your living room. Because it’s like conquering what nature intended for trees. Because there’s a pleasure in humiliating trees by adorning them with glittery bulbs and golfing pigs. Because it’s therapeutic to your marriage. Because it’s Christmas work, and you gotta get it done.