We got our Christmas tree last night, a room-filling Douglas fir, complete with a few pine cones still holding on after the long ride from the forest. We can thank German Lutherans for the practice of erecting a tree and decorating it for Christmas. Without them, who knows what symbol we would’ve chosen — maybe a porcupine, or, perhaps, a furnace filter. I can’t get excited about either of these, except for the idea of a Christmas porcupine, since that’s the only decoration that cats would leave alone, especially if the porcupine were decorated with cucumbers. Aren’t you glad we don’t do something as bizarre as a Christmas Porcupine?!? Instead we stomp out to the deep woods, cut down a healthy, beautiful, growing tree, thus ending its life years before it even had a chance, and we drag it to our homes and put it up in our living rooms, like some kind of hunting trophy for herbivores, and attach myriad colorful things to its every square inch, as if celebrating its demise. After a few weeks we throw it outside so the people can take it away, or we burn it, or we throw it into the same woods — a sick homecoming, if you will. We certainly don’t do anything as bizarre as a Christmas Porcupine adorned in cucumbers, and I’m ok with that.
Ah, what the aliens must think of us. If they exist. Do they celebrate Christmas and decorate their furnace filters?
Don’t get me wrong — I love a good Christmas tree and I love Christmas. I just hadn’t thought of the ceremony of the tree from this angle. And I sure hope Emily doesn’t read this, since she might think me a grinch of a husband, especially after I complained about how I hate putting lights on the house for Christmas. I’m thrilled about our tree, and I’m honored that it gets to spend its last few weeks in our living room arboretum. It’s already been decked out in lights. Ornaments are to come. The star will go up top, per usual. And Emily in her kerchief and I in my cap will soon settle down for a long winter’s nap. Why are we tired? Because getting a Christmas tree is a lot of work, but it’s okay because the kids love it and it stimulates the local economy.
We bought our tree from a greenhouse just down the road from our platz, aka zuhause, aka place where we keep our wohnzimmer. His name is Corstange and he sells excellent trees. He tied it to the roof of our station wagon with orange twine formatted in hearty knots. Mac was kind enough to cut the twine and release the tree from the luggage rack, which means the tree was indeed our luggage. We lugged it from our driveway to our living room (wohnzimmer) and put it in the tree stand. This is a special tree stand that cannot possibly tip over. The whole house would have to drastically change angles for that to happen, and the spoils of evergreen would be the least of our worries at that point. Our tree stand was given to us by Dave the Engineer, a kind radio professional and donator of practical gifts. It’s made from a huge piece of OSB cut into a perfect circle of 4 diametrically measured feet, making its circumference 150.72 inches — over 12 feet! Can anything with a circumference of 12 feet tip over? Not likely! Imagine a paper clip held up by a cinder block. It’s NASA-level redundancy here. All for Christmas.
But lo, the bolts that held the tree in place were bent by some aggressive tree work carried out last year by truly yours. 5/16”, coarse thread, shiny and new. Thank you, Home Depot. Just one trip to a hardware store during a project is a triumph in my world. Zac watered it as Emily strung lights around it. That was last night. Who knows what today’s adventure with tree will bring? History has taught me something here. When I get home in a few minutes, I know it’ll need to be straightened up a bit, as the ol’ beauty will have lost her center of gravity after some settling (I’m talking about the tree, mind you). Chances are that Mac and Zac have put ornaments on the moment they got home from school. Lexi has likely harvested an ornament to play with in some other room of the house. When I walk into the loving rom, Emily will exclaim “look!” with a big smile and arms open wide to present the tree. This moment will make me profoundly happy and I can’t wait until it happens, which will be about 10 minutes from now. I love my family so very much.
Last night, while we were getting the tree settled, we had the movie Home Alone running in the background, setting the right mood. Yet one question remains: why isn’t Kevin’s dad, Mr. McCallister, bothered by the idea of his little kid being home alone for several days during the holiday season? He just doesn’t seem to be all that concerned. We see Kevin’s mom (Catherine O’ Hara) smoosh her face together and shout “KEVIN!” on the plane, but what does dad say to this crisis? We don’t know because the scene cuts away. I can’t help but imagine Mr. McCallister telling his rightly concerned wife to relax, it’s not that big of a deal, and that she should be more concerned about the garage doors being left open than about their industrious son. Admittedly Kevin McCallister is industrious, brilliant, and surely shows his mettle in bamboozling the Wet Bandits®, but it sure would be nice to see dad a little freaked out about the safety of his kid. Am I alone in this?
I remember something at this time nearly every year. I remember — vividly — that Christmas trees are very thirsty. I remember this because of the horror of discovering an empty water thing in years past and wondering if I had contributed any kind of discomfort to the poor giant plant, whose only crime was that it was too beautiful to stay outside. Then I remember that it’s already dead. Then I remember how sharp those needles are, especially when they dry up. Guess what I’ll do when I get home? That’s right: ask Zac if the tree needs water. Thank goodness he’s small enough to get under there. Yet another industrious child. He will not, however, be left Home Alone.