Still woozy from the tryptophan and a bit drained after the Thanksgiving Day work-fest, I nevertheless hopped to it cockcrow early, the morning after, to begin garnishing our address in full Christmas gaiety. Egged on by recent tradition, two little girls all agog, and a friend in an adjacent neighborhood who by then had already decorated his house in award winning fashion, my wife and I schlepped the overstuffed boxes and Rubbermaid bins, some 15 in number, up from the corners of the basement, spreading them about the living room in no particular order.
First the trees, they’re similarly artificial and so must be assembled, we have two. I think the second tree was my idea though I regret it now for the additional toil it creates. A few years back I got tangled up in the tumult of my daughters’ holiday trimming zeal—Santa hats donned, Jingle Bells a blaring, eggnog a flowing—and the next thing I know, I’m walking out of Home Depot the satisfied customer and proud owner of counterfeit Christmas tree number two. Another non-problem solved.
All this is rather surprising since I have always held it a crime to own a fake Christmas tree. As a kid, I recall several instances where I stridently objected to my own mother’s suggestion that, for the sake of lessening the Christmas trimming hardship, we procure a faux one. That would be sacrilegious I remember declaring. Indeed, a real Christmas tree standing in the living room is a sight and smell to behold. And for as long as I can remember, the once yearly quest for the ultimate Christmas tree was a look-forward experience. My discerning eye could always be trusted to find just the right one, not too portly or petite, not too immense or bony.
Such is no longer the case, however. Having tussled with many a tree-trunk too big combined with a tree stand too small, and where the two shall meet nearly sawing off a finger or two, I finally saw the wisdom of the tree in a box approach. As you grow up, gain more experience, you tend to abandon the idealism that burdens most young people in favor of a pragmatism that only life experience can teach.
In the same way, initial plans to affix exterior lighting to the roof-line had to be revised after fully appreciating just how high my ladder—with me perched atop it—would need to reach. As an acrophobic I realized early on that the greatness of my Christmas decorations, especially exterior lighting, would forever be constrained—it’s just something those of us with a fear of heights must learn to live with.
Still, much can be achieved with creative ground based illumination. Though over the years I’ve grown weary of the many strings of lights that are put away functional, thoughtfully, and with great care, but that are retrieved a tangled jumble with nearly half the bulbs burnt-out, no longer operational—what does happen to all those lights during the eleven months they spend in that Rubbermaid container, safeguarded, doing nothing, in the basement?
But hanging the ornaments is without a doubt one of my favorite parts, mostly because my wife insists on doing it herself. Apparently, I don’t do it right—I know this because she’s told me so, many, many times. So, just as any loving husband would, I offer valuable critiques free of charge all while resting comfortably on the couch, sipping cheap eggnog.
For their part, the girls help decorate too. Though their high statistical average for breaking their mothers sentimental ornaments, combined with their tendency to want to roll, toss, bounce, or swing nearly everything they touch, especially shinny objects, often means taking one step backwards for every two steps forward. But that’s just the way kids are.
So in the long run, just as I have come to see the wisdom of a tree that comes from a box, I now see the wisdom of leaving your Christmas decorations, less the inflatables, observable and skyward all the yearlong. No more lugging containers up from the basement, no more assembling trees or wrapping garland, no more tangled jumbles of lights or mysteriously malfunctioning light bulbs, and no more putting away all that stuff after the holidays. No, enough of that—leave it up all year. Besides, it’ll be Thanksgiving again before you know it.