When the holidays are upon us we share stories of family traditions, touching memories and more quirks that set us apart from the rest of the normal people.
My mom had just gone out and purchased an artificial Christmas tree. It has all the latest bells and whistles, pre-lit with 6 billion "warm" white LED lights which is this year’s model and to boot the tree is a slim fit. About the only thing that will be slim this holiday. Anyway, she was telling me that my dad and she had to put up the tree immediately as she wanted to be sure the lights were all working and that it was indeed a "slim" tree. She was told that the store policy was 14 days for a return and being that this was only the second week of November it left her no choice but to perform an early test launch. She said that the tree was beautiful and a snap to put up only 20 minutes start to finish. This made me laugh as I started to have random flashback images of Christmas past.
Some families made the picking out of a tree a real family event, a joyful celebration, a cherished tradition. I picture them with their clothes laid out the night before...little Johnny may have even slept in his. The family would awake that crisp and sunny Saturday and hop in the station wagon for a drive into the country where they would come upon their beloved tree farm. Oh the children would shout for joy, "we're here, we're here" and mom and dad would join hands and embrace the glory. They would hop out of the wagon and make there way up to a barn that had been transformed into Christmas in 1920's. Inside would be an old wood burning fire, the smell of fresh pine and cider in the air. Around would be little hand made decorations and bake goods for sale. That wee family would stroll arm in arm out back to a field where the most perfect trees grew. Just then a flurry of snow and a warm light in the distance...hark our tree. The family running up to the tree, "this is it kids", dad would proclaim and the good sir would cut it down and wrap it up. Everyone piles back into the wagon, with cider in hand and a glow in there hearts.
Beautiful isn't it....cut to real life and I don't mean to insult anyone who for them this story is reality. You are just getting better drugs and counselling then my family got. Kudos’ to you!
The story "Christmas Vacation", with Chevy Chase was more my style. The houses that we grew up in typically had a space that would accommodate a fairly large tree. I say houses because we moved like we were in witness protection, but that is another blog.
As fair as most of the memories go, dad brought home a large real tree, it was lit and decorated to the tits and not much out of the ordinary. That is until silver shadow. That was the name of a street we lived on. I will remember that tree trimming for the rest of my life.
Please note the following is based on a true story, the content may seem truer than life, but rest assured it is strictly fact.
It was a week before Christmas I think I was 15. We had been talking about when and where we were going to get a tree. We were living in a multi levelled town home where the dining room looked over the living room in an open concept style. All thought the ceilings were 29 feet in the living room the actual footage was small. My dad who had been into the festive egg nog states that he will go get a tree. 3 hours later he returns with the mother of all trees. It would have been excessive for a shopping mall let alone our living room. Although he has never admitted it, I am convinced that my dad when to a tree lot and being from the great white north was disgusted by what they considered to be a tree and I am sure he was shocked that he was expected to "buy" one of God's trees, so he went for a little stroll and cut down his own tree. My mother's face when he arrived home with this wild tree, I will never forget. It hung 6 feet off each end of the minivan! The fight started then. My mother wanted to know, where he got a tree that size, where the hell he thought he was going to put a tree that size and what the hell was he thinking. There were 14 steps up from the foyer to the living room and I remember watching my father pull this damn tree up the stairs and it just kept on coming. When he reached the living room the top of the tree was still in the foyer. He dropped that tree in the middle of the living room/stairwell and I know I did a lot of drugs, but that was the biggest fucking Christmas tree I'd seen outside of Nathan Phillips Square. I just stood there Gob smacked as my father enlisted my help in standing up this tree. For the size of it, it was not terribly heavy and as we stood it up I understood why. Clearly my father had picked this sucker out in the pitch of night. There were holes in the tree that would house small families, not to mention the odd nest that my father proclaimed to be old and abandoned. I remember my mother standing there with her mouth wide open, it seemed like forever before she said something. Maybe she was looking for the right words, or reasoning for marrying the festive little man that stood before her then it happened. "For fuck sakes Tom, Jesus Christ. It has holes; there are holes in the tree. And how the fuck does anyone get the angle on top of that fucking situation"? My mom is the cutest little thing ever, all 4 feet 10 inches of her! I knew then it would be a Christmas to remember. My father had asked me to hold the truck of the tree as we were standing it up and I was still holding it when he let go and walked over to see it from my mom's perspective. "Well it's a little tall but I will trim it and the holes will fill in once I untie it and let her settle".
Yep, this thing was still tied up and the fresh sap was adhering my arm to it. My dad walking down the stairs on the way to the garage asks where we keep the tree stand. My mother is following him assuring him that we do not own a tree stand that will house a tree of that size. I can hear them bickering all the way down the stairs and out the house! I waited a few minutes and then began to get the impression that they were not returning. After an hour my brother appears, let’s not get into the look on his 9 year old face. I ask him where mom and dad are. He says, "They had a fight. Dad is tearing the garage apart and mom is at the neighbour’s house having "egg nog".
So I am stuck to the fucking tree, which is getting heavy. I send my brother out for help and soon my dad returns. He lifts the tree into a 20 litre paint bucket and fills it with water and rocks. Of course when he starts to untie the tree it turns out to be too wide and tree starts to tip. So there was some trimming and then the tree was secured to the wall at two points using heavy gauge wire. After a few more festive egg nogs, my dad decided to tackle my mother’s issue with the tree being too tall for her angel and to shut her up lopped off the top of the tree!
Yep, it took about 1000 large lights, decorations the size of grapefruit and a Christmas table cloth for a tree skirt, and so what if we could only sit on one section of an L couch, in the end she really sparkled on Christmas morning!
I believe we have had an artificial tree and dad has given up the egg nog since then so now we can all sit back and have a good laugh at our Griswald's family Christmas.
Happy tree shopping!