I finished a rough draft of the Christmas letter—although the Matt paragraph remains to be written. He gave me a list of all the things that I cannot mention. I’m waiting for the list of what I’m allowed to mention. Okay, he gave me a list. It had one thing on it that was usable. Sigh.
But this means that I have to begin to consider the next great holiday evil. Trimming the tree. I don’t know how it goes at your house, but here’s how it is at ours.
First, we bring up what I call the “Christmas Crap” from the basement. As the two bins are carried up, I secretly do the happy dance that the basement flooding last year destroyed at least four boxes of “Christmas Crap.” Yeah, baby!
Next Cal and sundry kids go to buy the tree. In New England this was actually fun because we got to peruse the fields and cut the tree ourselves. Hmm... Now that I mention it, I remember Ariel and I got bone cold as the icy winds blew.
While they go, I stay home and warm and spice the cider. It’s an important job involving precise application of the correct spices so I can’t let anyone else do it. Besides if they did, I’d have to go and pick out the tree too.
Cal brings the tree home. I begin sneezing. I’m not allergic to the tree, but all the mold and mildew that has accumulated on the tree as it waited in the tree lot. Of course, the tree does not fit the tree stand. Multiple trips in and out of the house begin, during which the tree drops mold spores all over the house. I start sucking cough drops and smear Vicks on my chest—my normal allergy meds can’t deal with this. Once the tree fits, I sweep tree needles for the first time.
Next, Jake spends 20 minutes detangling the lights and figuring out why the strings won’t light. He talks about circuits and conductivity. I sweep up the second set of pine droppings. Then, I sip my cup of cider.
Once Jake has the lights working, Luke and Matt put on the garland. Ariel comments on all the areas that aren’t done properly. She fixes their mistakes.
Then come the ornaments. Ariel discusses with the boys her theory of ornamentation. It involves color coordination. Luke’s theory is to make sure a Yankees ornament is visible on every side of the tree. Matthew likes ornaments put on according to some pattern that he has in mind. Ariel thinks his pattern has too many ornaments in it. Matthew ignores Ariel. Jake doesn’t care; he throws a few ornaments on and asks if he can play computer games. I say, “No!” I add brandy to my cider and Cal’s.
The ornaments are on the tree. I vacuum needles from the entire living room, telling myself that if I vacuum enough my sneezing will stop. It doesn’t. I decide that I hate decorating for Christmas.
Cal turns out the lights and plugs in the tree. The lights twinkle and reflect in the garland. I remember the histories of all the odd ornaments. We sit and sing Christmas carols—Silent Night, Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful. My eyes tear up and I remember why I love Christmas.