Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Norman Rockwell (would be ashamed)

In my family, we never could do things normally. Not even get a Christmas tree. And it has carried over to my generation. And we are trying to push it into the next generation. We don't go to the corner where the Boy Scouts are selling trees and hot cocoa, wandering the aisles looking for a tall, beautiful, wonderful smelling tree, excitedly shouting when we find the perfect one. Or head over to Home Depot and get the ten foot Douglas Fir prelit with 5,000 twinkling white lights, and decorate it with beautiful coordinating silver and red balls topped with a beautiful ribbon bow that trails down through the majestic branches.....

Nope. Not us. We have never ever done anything remotely like that. And Preston didn't during his childhood either. (He's a true redneck - dirt road, miles and miles outside a tiny town in which the main attraction is a restaurant called Pusser's. As in Buford Pusser. As in the sheriff who carried a big stick. There's a movie. Google it.) Cutting down our own tree is the only way to go. 

Sometime around the middle of November, I start to get antsy about decorating and especially getting the tree, but My Redneck makes me celebrate Thanksgiving first. Fine. Whatever. But the morning that's finally over with, out comes CHRISTMAS! There's a whole song stating "It's the most wonderful time of the year" for Pete's sake. How can you argue with that? However, I have learned getting the Christmas tree too early leads to a completely brown tree which on Christmas morning will pour spiky, dead needles down my shirt as I reach for presents. Not good on a lot of levels. So I show some restraint on the tree. And wait until the second December starts. 

We live on a bit of a farm, so we traipse around carrying an axe and a shotgun looking for an acceptable tree. Our standards are low. Anything appearing green and remotely shaped like a Christmas tree is fair game and can be argued about. And argue we will. 

The youngest will pick out a tree which would be appropriate for in front of the U.S. Capitol building and swear it is just the right size for our not-as-big-as-the-US-Capitol-house. And she will be passionate about it and be willing to fight to the death for her tree. 

The middle baby, who likes fanciness and will do something devoting her life to making Creation more beautiful, really can't find a tree she likes because they are not the ones I described above. She wants a perfect Blue Spruce lavished with glittering white ornaments and sparkling lights with a sterling silver star on top. Ain't never gonna happen in this here family. And I don't even talk like that. 

The oldest wants all the trees. There can be one in every room, the treehouse, the deck, to the top of the porch, to the top of the wall, let's cut them all down! They are all wonderful! I love Christmas! I will do cartwheels proving how much I love Christmas! I fell during that last one! Can you wash the cow poop I fell in out of my overalls? What Christmas tree? Oh, yes! I love that one and that one and that one! Let's get them ALL!

So. We eventually come to one Preston and I convince them will do just fine and start chopping. We must chop in order from youngest to oldest or something awful will happen. I don't know what, but it will, and it's tradition so we must do it this way. Chop chop. And since they are three little girls, chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop. 

Insert Daddy. Chop.

Then Preston drags the tree onto the trailer, and we all comment how it's the best one we've every had, and it will be perfect. (Bull and bull.) Commence the off key singing of Jingle Bells and haul the tree back to the house. Now we must get the tree to stand up, which means the stump must be leveled off, but the chainsaw won't start, because that's just the way things go. A butter knife is suggested and met with eye rolling by the others. Daddy gets a hand saw and uses all his manliness to pull the thing back and forth until his arm falls off. Then Mommy must lie on the ground holding the stand while Strong Daddy lifts the tree into the stand. Then we switch places, and Mommy must hold the tree upright while Daddy does things with wood pieces and wrenches and other things purely designed to keep Mommy's hand attached to the sappy tree trunk as long as possible. No, Preston, I cannot see if it's level because my head is buried in cedar limbs, which I happen to be allergic to if you remember. Can you please just screw the things in tight? How can it take this long to stand up a tree? Should we switch places and you hold the 400 pound tree upright while I screw in the thingamajigs? This leads into the inevitable light fight about who put them away in a giant knot last year and why none of them work and who will run to Target to get a fuse? And what exactly is a fuse? Off to Target. Trim it up while I'm gone and make it look less like a giant bush.

For the price of a nice fake Frasier Fir, I return home with all new lights because no, they did not have fuses. And the lights get strung and out come the ornaments. Not matching beautiful ones, although there are certainly beautiful ones, but rather homemade ones with chipping paint, ones showing preK baby faces, salt dough handprints, hand made wooden ones from Grandpa, ones collected from every trip we've taken since our Honeymoon a million years ago. Priceless treasures. Then it is topped with the star from my grandparents' Christmas tree. And suddenly, the tree is stunning. Beautiful to even the staunchest critic. The gathering place for the next three weeks. Home. Maybe worthy of a Norman Rockwell magazine cover.


By the way, we do this whole routine with my side of the family as well, to find a tree for in Mom and Dad's house, so just take this story and magnify it by 13, and you have another blog post to imagine. Only on that day we end the tree hunt by taking turns shooting the shotgun at clumps of mistletoe high in the trees and racing to pick up the fallen sprigs. Isn't that what they do at the Boy Scouts' stand?  

Grace and Mistletoe for today,

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