Oh thou traitorous tannenbaum

by Janie Jones

I love Christmas.  I love everything about the season.  I love the decorations.  I love the weather in the Great White North this time of year.  I love the gift purchase planning, the shopping, the wrapping and the magic of playing and “Santa” finding just the right gift for each person I buy for.  I love the baking, and the candy making, and the feasting.  I love the hush of a snowy Christmas Eve.  I love the magic of stockings and beautifully wrapped presents under the tree Christmas morning.  I love the smell of pine, and apple pie.  And I love to put my tree up early and sit in the evenings sipping tea by the glowing lights of the Christmas tree while my favorite carols play softly in the background.  It is peaceful, and it is one time of the year that no matter how bad things are I can forget all the crap just for a few weeks and be happy and joyful and remember why life is worth living.

Then again, I don’t watch network TV, and I don’t read the news so I manage to neatly miss the whole ugly commercialization aspect.  In Janie’s world, Pre-Christmas starts November 1, or as soon as Halloween decorations are put away.  I shop early while stores are less crowded, and before the best prices and items are gone.   And, by starting early I have time to shop around for sales.  In general, I usually am done with 90% of my Christmas preps before Thanksgiving and can for the most part simply enjoy the month of December and revel in my favorite things.

So it is this year.  I am on track.  I’m having a little bit harder time, though, “feeling the magic” this year.  The spud has been very naughty lately, even announcing that we should just “lie to Santa and tell him I’ve been good.”  Health issues have been preying on my mind as well as financial issues.  And, though all preparations had been proceeding according to plan, I could feel my heart was struggling to embrace the spirit.  But, one traitorous tannenbaum might tip the difference.

Circa late 1990’s I bought my first full size Christmas tree.  It came from Walmarz and was one of their Day after Thanksgiving sale promotions.  I think it was all of $20.  But it was fat, and 6 feet tall and thoroughly suitable for my situation at the time as I had recently married my second husband who also was a Christmas lover.  Over the years, however,  I found it’s girth cumbersome to fit in our various tiny abodes.  Then, pre lit trees started to become affordable, and in 2006 I fell in love with a slim 7 1/2 foot tall pre-lit tree that came covered in pine cones.   All season long I would wander through the store where it stood on display and dream of taking it home.  But, I had a tree, and at the time my husband was unemployed, and the expense was unjustifiable.   However, after Christmas, it went on clearance for 80% off, and so I bought it and stored it until next year.

Christmas of 2007 rolled around and at last I was able to set up my beautiful new tree.  But the damn thing was nothing like the magnificent display I had seen in the store.  It was sparsely branched and so barely “needled” and lopsided I seriously cried.  I kept thinking as I was unpacking it and unfolding it that there must be pieces missing, but reviewing the packing list showed that indeed I had been given all that the manufacturer intended to give.  And, so for the last 5 years setting up my tree has been a mission impossible made possible as I jammed all sorts of silk poinsettias, extra pine branches and a metric ton of ornaments on my tree to hide it’s inadequacies.  Although disappointment still nagged my sensibilities, I learned to make a silk purse out of my sow’s ear tree.

On Sunday last week, feeling that it might help my spirit to get a little Christmas magic rolling, I decided to set up that traitorous tannenbaum.  So, I lugged the heavy box up from the basement and began assembly.  But, it would seem that there was one more moment of disappointment I would need to live through with this tree.  The permanently attached lights would not light except for in two places in the middle section.  Not believing that it was actually broken at first, I disconnected and reconnected all the plugs from the 8 strands of lights.  Again, and again in different combinations, until frustrated to the extreme, I finally had to announce the damn thing had given up the ghost and was dead.  And then depression set in.  How could I finally get into the Christmas spirit with out the focal point of the entire show?  The tree is like the Christmas magic divining rod to me.  How would it be possible to have my beautiful, magical Christmas season with out a tree?  And, how to buy one when I have no budget for such extras?

Thankfully, Lief was very thoughtful in my moment of dismay, promising to do what he could to help me manage a new tree and assuring me that it was not only necessary emotionally and mentally for me to buy an new tree, he would miss not having one, too.

Thank heaven for him and my one credit card:  Target store charge card.  That and the fateful sale of a $45 dollar slim Frasier fur I spotted on the email flyer that had ironically been delivered to my inbox earlier that day (Christmas miracle?).  To be sure, I ran all over the tiny po-dunk town I live in Sunday evening checking stores that sell trees.  Nothing looked promising.  On Monday while in the Big City for my oncology follow up I checked a few places there, but saw nothing promising.  So Tuesday after school I went to Target and had a look.  The display looked good.  However, I had been burned by tannebaum display bait and switch before.  But, for the price and my situation, I figured if it wasn’t worse than the Ol’ Traitor, I could make something of it.

And, it came home.  And, I did make something of it.  And, you know what?  I think it is absolutely perfect.

The magic is back. 

I hope your holidays, what ever ones you celebrate, are happy, too!

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2 Comments to “Oh thou traitorous tannenbaum”

  1. That’s a lovely tree!

    The tree is vital for my Christmas happiness, as well. Mine doesn’t go up until Dec 11th, however – two weeks before Christmas; and it comes down exactly one week after Christmas, on Jan 2nd, because it’s all over with and I need the mess out of my way.

  2. I used to wait until the last weekend of November to set mine up, but since moving up north, the weather gets cold much sooner, and so I always want to get the outdoor decor up before the below zero temps and massive amounts of snow set in. Once I’ve begun I generally get the “bug” and just keep going. One year we got a big snow the first weekend in November and Leif was all, “Why don’t you put the tree up? Seems like it’s time for Christmas.” He knows it makes me happy.

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