Thursday, December 25, 2008

Damn Tannenbaum

"O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter!"

I was fine with scaling back this Christmas. No flourishes. No expensive gifts between Michael and I. All I’m asking for are ear buds for my iPhone. I somehow lost mine and I continually tempt fate driving around, talking on my cell, one hand off the wheel. This act happens to be newly illegal in our fair state. But a pair of buds, allowing my hands to remain at two and ten o’clock keeps me from breaking the law, and I would be a complete mommywife.

This year, it’s all about the kids. And let me tell you, Santa went crazy at Target. I hate Tar-jay. Especially when there are three floors of it, two days before Christmas. It felt like I was picking through an already picked at carcass. My daughter is two but already wears 3T. I found cute shirts and pants and pajamas in 2T, and then 4T, all the way up to adult practically. But there was a 3T black hole in their inventory. Leaving me the skeletal remains.

We decided on the $24.95 Home Depot Christmas tree. Usually, we go to one of those private Christmas tree lots, that have beautiful Noble and Douglas firs. We like an eight, maybe nine foot tree. Something tall and well proportioned. And a tall, well proportioned guy tying it to the top of my car is always a welcome perk. All together, including stand and tip, we have spent upwards to $210 on a tree. Trust me this exorbitance is not lost on me.

In 2000, Michael and I had our first Christmas party and an empty tree. Everyone was asked to bring an ornament, purchased or home made, didn’t matter. Otherwise they would be subjected to a pathetic Charlie Brown Christmas tree look-alike. It was a wonderful hodgepodge: Backstreet Boys figurines, a blown-out, painted eggshell, origami birds, photographs, Santa in a biplane. We loved it. Since then, we have supplemented with special ornaments purchased, mostly on trips. A glass ball filled with the black sands of Kauai, various glass animals wearing glasses and dancing jigs, and a few Christopher Radko ornaments. Christopher Radko has made a mint by commercializing Christmas. On average you shell out forty bucks for one of his beautiful glass ornaments. We’ve purchased many, including Black Santa, Flamenco Senorita, and one I love to call Betty Grable Santa. It’s Santa Clause in the classic Betty Grable poster pose, wearing a bathing suit, showing off spectacular gams. Whereas one can see how Betty got our boys through WW II, the same come hither look from Santa is just downright peculiar.

Two years ago, Michael informed his mother that he was going to buy a tree for her house. A real tree, that will spill needles from time to time. He said our kids need a cheery Christmas and the Santa that sings James Brown would not be enough. Well, my mother-in-law grumbled but succumbed. We bought tree, stand and ornaments. Put it all together and everyone enjoyed it...until it fell over! Thank goodness, no one was hurt. We refutzed with it and voila, once again it looked great, if not a bit flattened on one side. But six hours later...plop. We ended up leaning it against the wall.

This story’s significance, we bought that tree and stand from La Depot. So, this time, I had my eyes wide open. We were not going to get the ten dollar stand with the narrow base. I was willing to splurge the extra twenty for a wider-based stand and a falling-down free Christmas. But two nights ago, at one in the morning, our tree crashed to the floor.

Michael and I quickly ran to the living room. The destruction was tremendous. I jumped into action, quickly disentangling the salvageable ornaments, putting them aside. I don’t think I would have rescued casualties of war with any less sense of purpose. First ones to save, the polka dot ornaments we bought in Madison when visiting my sister. Then I rescue Dorothy and Glinda. Followed by Cruella de Vil, Fancy Flamingo with Top Hat, Turtle with Pearls, Muscular Merman... (I’m not sure if we don gay apparel during this season, but we have one flaming Christmas tree.)

When that was done I took stock in the devastation. My back seized up, I noticed a shortness of breath. I swear, it’s the closest to a panic attack I’ve ever felt. Everything from my spine to my demeanor caved in.

Michael and I had just talked about the ornaments, where we got them, their significance, the people who gave them to us. And BAM... Black Santa, gone. Kauai sands, gone. Many of the polka dots from Madison, gone. Ornaments from my childhood, gone. Polar Bear, gone. Betty Grable Santa, Flamenco Senorita, Octopus with Sunglasses, gone, gone, gone. It was horrible. Glittery shards and limbs lined my waste basket. Merry fucking Christmas.

We’ve resecured the tree as best we could. Although a ribbon knotted around the trunk of the tree and secured on a picture hook seems like dicey fix. (Definitely a flaming household; we don’t have any rope, but I can find you some durable satin ribbon in a blink.)

I’ve done the math. This year’s tree: $20. Overly priced, cheap-ass stand: $30. Ornament destruction: about $260. Making a grand total of a $310 Christmas tree. Now, last year’s tree, sturdy stand and sturdy gent to tie it down: $210. We’re in an economic spiral, and we spent one hundred dollars more for a tree than last year!

Yesterday, something miraculous happened. I found my chipper Christmas spirit as I stirred kirsch into the Christmas Eve fondu. (Talk about flaming.) The carnage of the previous day’s events seemed trivial. My family was healthy and safe, and I was drinking a hearty red wine.

I’ve experienced two other Christmas miracles since then. We were asked by our church to light the last advent candle, and my self-proclaimed, Atheist husband agreed! The other miracle was that our son, who usually awakens at 6:30, didn’t rouse himself until 8:40.

I was operating the camera as the kids came into the living room. We may have spent $310 on our Christmas tree, but the look on their faces...priceless.
"O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
How lovely are thy needles!"

5 comments:

Jason said...

any chance that David or Trench Coat were just not in the Christmas mood and pushed the tree over?

Sarah T. said...

I love that you have a Cruella De Vil ornament...

Rosemary said...

I loved it. The lost ornaments, the dilema over the gun, your father's "colored" comment. Very vivid and fun writing!

Kisa said...

You have such a gift with words! I love your style. This is a really funny post, and I can see it all before me. Keep writing! Keep writing!

(F)redddy said...

I really must insist you stop pretending to be me. Our parallels are a bit too much.