Oh, Christmas Tree

I used to be one of those people who felt it was blasphemy to start decorating for the holidays before Christmas.  You know, when I used to have all the time in the world.  Maybe it was my time in grad school (gee, it sounds like prison, doesn’t it?) and the fact that I was super busy from mid-November to almost mid-December, but I started to realize that if we didn’t begin to decorate right after Thanksgiving, there was a good chance we might not get to decorate until the day before Christmas, which kind of defeats the purpose.

We’ve really enjoyed starting to decorate the day after Thanksgiving the last few years.  As December and the requisite insanity begin, it is so nice to be able to check off “decorating” from our mile-long to-do list.   As with Halloween, Christmas gets my decorating juices flowing.  I have Griswold aspirations but lack the energy unfortunately.  But I can dream and vow that one day, we will have an impressive light show.  Our neighborhood is fun in that it is full of both tasteful light displays and ones that show more enthusiasm than planning with mismatched lights, inflatables and whatever else they can dream up.

Confession:  we have an artificial tree.  I know.  It shocks me a bit too.  I grew up with live trees, but there are advantages to having an artificial tree.  In recent years, our tree decorating routine goes like this: bring down tree in 2 parts (we stopped trying to cram it back into its box years ago), fluff it (the inspiration for many a fight over whose job it was to fluff the tree), and decorate it (totally my job).

Our old tree started to give up the ghost towards the end of the season last year.  Entire strands of lights stopped working.  When we started contemplating getting ready for the holidays about a week before Thanksgiving, we both recalled the dead lights.  A different couple who had lived a different year might have decided the tree was easily fixed.  We, however, acknowledged that while the tree was fixable, accepted our many limitations this year and decided to throw money at the problem and buy a new tree.  In our defense, we bought that tree almost 10 years ago and for a different house.  It had done its job well.

We settled on a  handsome 9 ft tall pre-lit tree that would make the perfect statement in our living room (statement of what, I don’t know.  Hopefully a tasteful statement).  Multicolor lights because that is Jimmy’s one request and I figure I can honor it.  We found one that didn’t cost a ridiculous amount, bought it, and it arrived a few days before Thanksgiving.  We were fully prepared and excited to set up that baby in the living room the day after Thanksgiving.

Jimmy set up the tree, plugged it in and discovered the entire middle section of the tree didn’t work.  No problem!  That’s why they sent extra lights, right?  WRONG.  Turns out that the problem light was a master light.  I’m no electrician, but apparently, the broken master light was not replaceable although we tried.  We concluded we would have to call the manufacturer to order a replacement section the following week.

Weekend 1: unfluffed, undecorated, unlit gargantuan tree in our living room, mocking me.

The week after Thanksgiving, we talked with customer service and they agreed to send us new lights in the interim while they made a new middle section for us.  Yay!

Weekend 2:  the new lights have arrived!  Surely our tree will be decorated by the end of the first weekend in December. We attempt to string them, and they are weird lights structurally, kind of like a double helix.  I have no idea how to string these lights.  We give up, and Jimmy thinks he can wire a workaround.   Yet another week in which we have an unfluffed, undecorated, unlit gargantuan tree mocking me in our living room.

Weekend 3: Jimmy performs wiring magic, and all the lights on the tree work!  I spend Sunday fluffing the tree, cursing under my breath the entire time.  It takes me a good 3 hours to fluff it, and we decapitate the tree to fluff the top, since we can’t reach it without a ladder.

Topless tree

Sunday, December 9:  Daniel has gone to bed.  It’s 8:30.  By God, I’m going to decorate the damn tree.  I add strand after strand of gold beads.  With the help of a chair and stool, I manage to place the decorations on the tree, carefully spacing them out so there are no dead areas.   No necks or legs are broken due to graceless lumbering on and off stools.

Are we the only ones who have a train table in our living room?

Are we the only ones who have a train table in our living room?

I don’t think it looks half bad!  Surely the haphazard, imperfect look of the beads adds a quaint touch.  It’s an accessible tree.  The next step will be to figure out how we’re getting the star on top. Oh, and a new tree skirt.  I swear, decorating the tree this year has been death by a thousand, tiny cuts.  Maybe, hopefully by Christmas it will be finished.

Close up view

Close up view

Oh – guess what was waiting for us on the porch when we got home yesterday?  The new section of the tree.  I wish I were kidding.  That sucker’s going upstairs to the attic.  Maybe next we’ll be able to find an extension cord for the lights on the bushes so that both sides will be lit.

How do you decorate for Christmas?


  1. Grad school IS a prison… just sayin’!

    We’ve had our tree up since the middle of November… Otherwise it would not go up either!

  2. My parents always had a fake tree – though yours is a lot more realistic fake than our lovely 1970s model was – and I grew up hating it and vowing that as God was my witness I would never go without a real tree again yada yada. So I’m just warning you, y’know. 🙂

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