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Revenge Of The Christmas Tree, A Holiday Challenge

Laurie, Christmas

Laurie has a long, complicated history with Christmas trees.

By Laurie Stone

It looked so promising in Home Depot. Artificial, but the perfect height, around six feet, and already adorned with white lights and “sparkles.”

“I won’t even have to decorate this tree,” I thought smugly. Had I finally outfoxed Christmas?

As many people know, I have a long, complicated history with Christmas trees. When Randy and I were first married, 40 years ago, we decorated one of our ficus plants with white lights. I thought it looked beautiful.

Then babies came and as they grew, so did Christmas. Over the decades we graduated to a full-grown fir (much to our little boys’ delight) and then to a full-grown artificial (much to their teenage horror) and then to a small real tree (which I called “fun size”) and now to this small artificial … all in the quest for holiday ease.

I got this new tree home, popped its three tiers together, plugged in the lights, and voila! Instant Christmas.

But there was one problem.

Every time I touched it, a cloudburst of glitter erupted from its branches. “Surely, once it has ‘settled,’” I told myself, brushing sparkles off my clothes, “the spillage will stop.” After all, animals shed when nervous. Maybe fake Christmas trees do, too. Within an hour, glitter was showing up three rooms away. An uneasy feeling descended.

The Search For Perfection

Something else bugged me. The tree had a black metal stand and I wanted to put it in a container — a basket or planter — to give it a more finished look. The next morning I went through three stores to find an 18-inch vessel. No luck. Most clay planters were so heavy I’d need a backhoe to lift them. Every light basket was exactly one inch less in circumference than needed. I pushed back annoyance, but this holiday was getting complicated.

I came home empty-handed, but then thought of a large planter in my den. Taking everything out of it (including a heavy plant), I brought it to the living room, huffing and puffing.

mother, worrying, hopeful, boys, asleepI lifted the artificial tree to put it inside and it separated into its three sections. Glitter puffed everywhere. I stood there in mute rage, fuming. This holiday was so much work.

“I’m going to kill someone,” I muttered. (And yes, I might have kicked the tree, but I can’t recall. Ahem.)

My mom lives with us and I heard her in the kitchen. “How are things going?” she asked as I walked in, looking like I just spent eight hours at the sequin factory.

“I need your advice,” I said, wiping sparkles from my face.

Nodding warily, my mom followed me to the living room and surveyed the damage. Besides the broken tree, heaps of glitter lay everywhere — on the rug, the floor and every piece of furniture, Even my terrier Libby had glitter stuck to her nose and fur. Liberace himself would’ve fainted.

Mom quickly surveyed the crime scene and gaCve her verdict. “Return the tree,” she said. I thought about this for two seconds and agreed.

Give Unto Others

My son Paul helped me pile the Tree from Hell back into its box and rather than stand in long lines at Home Depot’s return counter, I brought it to Goodwill. Surely someone can use it I figured — someone who really, really likes glitter.

I got home and swept and Mom vacuumed. We got most of the glitter out.

That still left me tree-less. I was about to despair when one of my large palms, standing about five feet tall, caught my eye. I placed it where the Christmas tree had been. I found some white lights and wrapped them around the skinny stems and fronds. It took several attempts to get it right, but when I stood back, it looked beautiful.

“My God,” I thought, “I’ve come full circle.” After 40 years of Christmas trees, I had returned to a house plant.

And in that moment, I had my annual Christmas epiphany. All these years, the problem hadn’t been Christmas. The problem had been me. Christmas was simple. But I had made it complicated.

For me, the magic of Christmas had always been coming into the living room at night and seeing those beautiful lights. It almost didn’t matter what they were entwined around. The sight always gave me a feeling of deep gratitude. Another year had come and gone with its triumphs and hardships. We were still together. Life is good.

But I’d been too busy swatting glitter and kicking fake evergreens to see.

In the end, I hadn’t outfoxed Christmas at all. As usual, Christmas had outfoxed me.

Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, Conn. Her blog,”Musings, Rants &Scribbles,” shares thoughts on growing up, older and (hopefully) wiser. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

2 Responses to “Revenge Of The Christmas Tree, A Holiday Challenge”

  1. Amy says:

    I loved this essay especially the lines “Christmas was simple. But I had made it complicated.” I tend to do that, too. I will print this one out and pack it with my Christmas decorations to remind me next year that less is more, and life is good. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Humorous, as usual. And, we need your humor right now! I think you should keep the tree all year…

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