by Michael Petrie
Finding yourself just a tad lacking in holiday spirit this year? Well, sometimes ya just gotta give yourself a little push. That's what I did.
You see, over the weekend my wife, Laura, suggested we get a Christmas Tree. Wallowing in holiday apathy, I responded with, "knock yourself out" ... meaning I had absolutely no interest and if she wanted a tree she could do all the work of buying one, lugging it home and decorating it. "Bah humbug," I might have added - or perhaps it was already implied.
Anyway, with that grandest of holidays nearly here, I made a conscious decision that my Christmas doldrums needed to be shaken off. I left work early, went to the mall and launched into a buying frenzy, accumulating last minute gifts for family, friends and, of course, my darling wife. But, driving home, it occurred to me that the gift she might appreciate most would be a Christmas Tree.
So, I stopped off at the local Christmas Tree lot - there were only about 20 trees left; most of them looking pretty sad. They reminded me of how our dog Arlo looked when we first found him as a stray running loose - kinda pathetic and in need of a good home. I selected what appeared to be the least pathetic sapling on the lot, paid an astronomical sum, loaded it atop the SUV and tooled on home. Holiday spirit had not yet fully taken over, but it was beginning to make itself felt. I figured I'd set the tree up and have it all decorated to surprise Laura when she got home. I had less than two hours to accomplish this feat. And . . . there were a number of obstacles attempting to thwart my newfound Christmas spirit.
Arriving home, I could not find the boxes of Christmas "stuff"- you know, holiday decorations and . . . "stuff." I thought they were in the garage, and when it became apparent they were not - I tore the house apart
frantically searching for them. With the tune 12 Days of Christmas ringing in my head, I finally located the "seven boxes hiding" in a crawl space under the stairs and hauled them all out to the garage where they should have been in the first place.
Searching through the boxes, I discovered that we did not have a Christmas Tree stand. Uh oh, how was I going to stand the tree up without a "stand?" Iï¿½m sure we own at least three tree stands, but they were nowhere to be seen.
Okay, don't panic; improvise. How hard could it be to create a tree stand? Removing several bottles of wine, I decided to use an old wine rack as a Christmas Tree stand - laying it on its side and placing the trunk of the tree into one of the wine slots. And, it worked! I had the tree standing up in the wine rack in the garage and was admiring my ingenuity, when Arlo approached the tree and lifted his leg on it! Ugh! After properly admonishing poor Arlo (not his fault, he probably thought it was cool that I brought home a piece of the forest for him to pee on), I hauled the tree out to the front yard and hosed it off.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and Laura will be home within the hour. Much to do if I am going to surprise her with a fully decorated Christmas Tree. I dried off the tree as best I could and carried it inside the house. For some reason the wine rack/tree stand that worked perfectly in the garage failed me inside the house - it just would not stand up straight. After much struggling to get the tree at a full upright position, I abandoned the wine rack idea in exchange for a big pot containing a house plant. Transplanting the house plant to a plastic bucket I found in the laundry room, I jammed the Christmas Tree into the pot and - with some finesse - got the tree to stand straight and tall.
Putting Christmas music on the stereo to enhance the mood, I proceeded to pull decorations from the seven boxes of holiday stuff and decorate the tree. How is it that strands of lights become a tangled mess when the year before I always take great care to coil them nicely as they are packed away? Anyway, I had just finished and was placing the last present under the tree when Arlo barked, signifying that he heard Laura pull up in the driveway. Turning out the interior house lights so the Christmas Tree lights shone brightly, carols playing on the stereo, fragrance of pine filtering through the air - the holiday mood was set. I made it! Laura would be so surprised to walk in and find the house awash in holiday decor. I could hardly wait to see the look of surprise and joy on her face.
I heard her enter, the jingle bells I hung on the door announcing her arrival. She looked at the tree, gave me a tired smile and said, "Oh, you got a tree. That's nice." Okay, so I was expecting a bit more emotion from her ... but the entire project did finally catapult me into the spirit of the season. Ho, ho, ho!