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07/10/2015

My Adversarial Relationship With My Christmas Tree

My first two Christmas trees were my parent's cast-offs. The first one was a saggy, tired thing that had been in the family since I was a girl. I have only vague memories of our previous trees. I was actually quite fond of my saggy Christmas tree and it served me well for about 9 years.

Then my parents bought themselves a smaller tree and offered their "old one" to me. This one was sturdier and prettier, so I accepted it.

I took my old one out and set it in its box in front of my apartment complex's dumpster. The next time I looked it was gone. I hope it served someone else as faithfully as it did me.

The second of my parent's cast-off trees was 6 feet tall stayed with me for 15 years. That is, until Christmas Eve of 2011.

That year I had finished all of my Christmas preparations and had sat down at my computer to enjoy a pleasant evening sending a few last Christmas messages before calling it a night.

While I'm typing away I hear a crack and then a soft whooshing sound behind me. Puzzled, I turn around in my chair to find my Christmas tree keeled over in the middle of the living room floor. The cracking noise had been the sound of the stand breaking, as I discovered when I bent over to try and stand it back up again. It would never stand on its own again.

Luckily for me it was early enough in the evening that K-Mart hadn't closed yet, and I was able to pick up a bulky, clunky-looking tree stand that would have to do.

Unfortunately, this new tree stand was designed for real trees, not artificial ones. It was deeper than the one that came with the tree, since it was designed to hold water. In order to make it work, I had to remove the bottom row of branches and try to re-distribute all of the decorations on the tree.

The people who saw the tree post-accident thought it was pretty. (Sigh of relief.) And while I was grateful I had managed to make it work out, I wished they could have seen it without the accident, because it was much prettier in its original configuration. And so I made it through that Christmas with my jury-rigged tree.

After the holiday rush, I bought a new tree on sale. It was a pretty medium-green color with cute little fake pine cones on the branches. I was hooked.

I made a decision that year that after many years of squeezing a 6 foot tree into my small apartment that I only wanted a 5 foot tree. The salesman also assured me that he would make doubly sure that the tree I got actually had pine cones on it, because sometimes the manufacturer left them off.

A week later when I went to buy the tree I was waited on by a different salesman. He wasn't as nice, but he assured me that the tree would have the pine cones on it, just like it said on the box.

The holiday season was past, so I carried my new tree home and placed it in the back of the closet for next year.

My old tree was disassembled bit by bit and taken down to the garbage can in lots. I hated to waste it like that, but I could not in good conscience put out a broken tree even if it was free.

So we come to 2012. I take the new tree out of the closet. Problem #1 raises its head immediately. Instead of the 5 foot tree I thought I had gotten, the box says 6.5 feet. So this tree is even bigger and will take up even more room!

Unfortunately, it has been a year since I bought it, so I figure there's no way I am going to be allowed to exchange it. I console myself at the thought of the store giving me the larger, more expensive tree and probably selling the smaller tree I wanted to someone who thought they were getting my 6.5 foot tree.

So I unbox the tree and Problem #2 promptly raises its head. There are no pinecones on this tree. Nor are there any in the bottom of the box that I can put on it, as the second salesman so glibly assured me when I bought it. I am not happy.

But the tree is still pretty even without the pinecones, so I struggle for an hour to assemble the tree stand so that I can put my new tree up.

Yes, I said an hour. My previous two trees (and the one I bought separately after the accident), had been simple to assemble. Those were all put together in just a few minutes. Not this one! We fought for an hour before that stand finally consented to be assembled. The rest of the tree was fairly simple to assemble.

And now we come to the adventure of stringing up the lights. I began getting out my Christmas lights to discover that nearly all of my light strings had begun to feel their age and were no longer functioning. So I went out and bought a few strings of new LED lights.

Except that LED lights work on a different principle then the traditional lights do, meaning that my flasher plug has now been rendered useless.

I have always enjoyed having some of my lights flashing and some of them not. For me, a tree with lights that just sit there is boring. So not being able to have any flashing lights on my tree is not acceptable.

Unfortunately for me, I soon discover that there is no such thing as buying a string of LED lights with an optional flasher plug. You have to spend the big bucks on a "light show" package.

Eventually I find a selection of these at my local K-Mart. K-Mart is a handy store to have within walking distance of my house.

So I take my new "light show" home, and take it out of the box. I string it on the tree. Everything is fine and good at this point. Then I try to choose which lighting effect I want.

 

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