By Amy McCollom
The day after Thanksgiving has always been the day that my family has put up our Christmas tree. It’s as if as soon as the Thanksgiving feast has been eaten and the dishes are done, the Christmas tree had to be up by sundown or we were late!
This year I am ready for it, I think because I have gotten most of my Christmas shopping done early, there is less stress. And the sooner we can get our Christmas tree up and decorated, the sooner I can get the gifts wrapped, under the tree, and out from their hiding places. (I haven’t been able to open certain drawers of my dresser since July.)
As much as I’m in a hurry to get the tree up, there is one problem; we have a new cat. The two older cats we have are calmer now and thankfully less active, so they aren’t as interested in batting down baubles and shiny ribbons. But our new cat, or should I say kitten, as he is less than six months old, is more athletic and alert than the two other cats put together. I should also say that it was not my idea to get a third cat, nor was I asked. That cat just appeared one day in my daughter’s arms when she introduced him to me as her new cat. Funny how that happens, eh.
I am thinking that this year, again, we will have to get out the concrete cinder blocks and bungee cords to hold the Christmas tree down and stabilize it to our heavy wrought iron table like we did when our first kitty was small. It’s kitten tested, and mama-approved. There is also a way that I will have to attach the balls so as not to leave them dangling by wrapping wire through the branches. I’m really hoping Grim doesn’t want to chew on the lights; so far he hasn’t been fond of chewing cords around the house, so he has that going for him.
When we first had children we had to modify our Christmas trees then too. For years we only decorated the top 1/3 of our tree. We had three little ones under three years old, twice. So it was years before we could actually have a fully decorated tree. Plus we had cats. I don’t know why we tried to put decorations on it at all really.
One time we had a tree on the wall. I just shaped some lights into a triangle and taped some balls along the cord, and voila. It worked well that year. Festive, unreachable, simple to take down.
John likes the traditional big fat Christmas tree in the front living room window, like he had when he was a kid. When we got married, he still had some homemade ornaments he had made when he was a child. I thought that was really sweet.
Well, except for that one ornament made out of a lightbulb and paper mache that his whole family had nicknamed “The Blue Poo.” (I’m being polite.)
My mom liked to plan our Christmas trees and make them like something you would see in a magazine or at a fancy department store. Our trees were always color coordinated and only had certain kinds of bulbs, lights, ribbon, or ornaments according to the look she wanted to achieve. Some years she had blue lights with silver and white balls, another time she had white lights with red apples and tiny baskets and plaid ribbon, and another time she had colored lights, tiny old fashioned toys, and velvet ribbon. It changed every year.
I always hated making ornaments at school because I knew my mom would never let me hang them on the tree. Homemade kids ornaments were never going to fit into her theme, so anything I made wasn’t going on the tree and was pretty much useless at my house. I knew they would probably just end up in the trash.
Throughout my life, I have seen 56 Christmas trees. That is a lot of trees. I have had to put together and decorate over half of those trees. I love Christmas trees, but I’m tired. Planning and trying to make a perfect Christmas for everybody is stressful. That’s why I would like to plan to take the stress out of the holidays.
When all of the kids move out, I want to get one of those ceramic Christmas trees that you just plug in, and be done with it. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but the way my bones ache and my body hurts at this age, I know in the next few years I’m going to want even less to wrestle a 7 ft. realistic alpine out of a box and fluff it’s branches one more year, or change out burned out lights and affix with wire all the plastic balls on the side not towards the wall. I’m not going to want to vacuum plastic needles from the carpet, or worry about getting all those scratchy branches back into their box come January.
As much as I love Christmas trees, I really do think that I will want to downsize my decor plans soon. If the family would let me, I would get a light-up picture of a Christmas tree now, hang it on the wall, and switch it on for the Christmas season, and off on January 2.
Whatever kind of Christmas tree you have, I’m sure it will be just right for your family. Christmas trees, like families, are individual and unique. Enjoy the start of the Christmas season, and may it not be stressful, no matter what.