A little Christmas cheer

by Lorin Michel Sunday, December 6, 2015 7:37 PM

Yesterday, I officially began decorating for Christmas. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but I don’t like to do it until Thanksgiving weekend, and last weekend we were away. So yesterday, I pulled out the two boxes that held our new, as-yet-unseen Christmas tree and started spreading the cheer.

For years, we’ve had an artificial tree. I bought it when Justin was in high school and worked at a place called Do It Center. It’s a smaller, more civilized version of Home Depot, much like Ace Hardware but not as complete. I got a discount because my kid worked there and they had a pretty decent selection of Christmas trees. We always had real trees. Both Kevin and I grew up when getting the Christmas tree was an annual family pilgrimage. We didn’t traipse off into the forest like they did on The Waltons. We went to a Christmas tree farm. They have Christmas tree farms in California, too. It’s a little strange the first time you visit one if you’ve grown up in the Midwest or North East. Searching for and cutting down a tree in shorts and a tee-shirt? Who knew that pine needles could be so itchy.

The year I bought the artificial tree was the year Kevin was doing his best Ebenezer Scrooge impersonation. I have no idea what set him off but he was grumpy “as all get out” (a phrase he loves to use) and wouldn’t go with me to get a real tree. I wanted to start Christmas. I love Christmas. So I said “fine,” the kiss-my-ass kind of fine, and off I went to Do It Center where I picked out a very nice six-foot unlit tree. It came in one box. I brought it home, and proceeded to set it up. Artificial trees are actually very easy to set up and look pretty real. The biggest issue was fluffing out the branches, especially the first time one sets up a tree out of a box. The branches are all mashed; all stuck together. They have to be unfurled in order to make the tree look full.

We had vaulted ceilings in the Oak Park house so Mr. Scrooge eventually built me a platform so that we could raise the tree up about two feet. It also gave us more floor space since the house wasn’t very big. It was a good system and worked for years, including last year.

But this year, in the new house, we have 18-foot ceilings through out. The house is an open floor plan. Even on a two-foot platform, the Do It Center tree would be dwarfed. It would look like a shrub. So last year, right after Christmas, I went online and started researching taller trees. I figured it was a good time to get a good deal and I was right. 

I did a bunch of research. I wanted one that was tall, but not all the way to the ceiling. I didn’t want one that was too fat – normally the taller the tree, the wider it becomes – but I didn’t want it to take over the room. I wanted it to have presence without being the only presence. I chose what was labeled a narrow fir. It’s about 12’ high. Fits perfectly into the corner of the great room, nestled between two walls of glass. I put it up last night. It took hours. There are six parts, from two boxes, that needed to be connected, from the base to the top. Then all of the branches needed to be unfurled. The tree is so tall the base is on wheels. 

Christmas decorating has officially begun now in earnest. The tree is up, with lights. I have to find the ornaments. My beautiful Karen Didion Santa that Kevin bought years ago is on the hearth, my much smaller Fabriché Santa is on the couch table, and the big Santa that my mom and sister got me years ago, who is the height of a small child, is standing near the tree. 

Tonight, the Byers Choice Carolers come out. Christmas has come to the hill and I’m cheering it out loud.

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