26 November 2018

[Bess Tuggle] - Memoirs of Surviving Children: Getting Up the Christmas Tree



T’is the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la la, ha ha HA! 

I’m not a “Bah, humbug” sort of person.  As much as I love the holidays, I dread ‘em too. 

            We haven’t even had turkey yet, with my mother’s –wonderful- stuffing (though it’s coming up soon).  It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it – and a shout out and thanks ‘cause she always hides some leftovers for me; siblings can kiss my rear, I have first dibs.  Seniority has its privileges.    

The Christmas tree kicks it off for me.  This is the part I dread.  We’ve always had real trees, I always put ‘em up two weeks before Christmas, and they’re always down before New Years Eve.  There’s a reason for that.

            When my boys’ were little we had BIG Christmas trees.  I mean –really- big.  Eighteen to twenty two foot tall trees.  Bringing it in and standing it up was an all day event, and it took all of us to do it.

            The old living room had an open ceiling to the loft, so a huge tree wasn’t a problem.  Getting it into the house and standing it up was.  It really, really, REALLY was.

            Thing 3 and Thing 4 learned to be the anchors after we dragged our current behemoth tree into the house.  BOTH of them had to hold down the base of the trunk while the rest of us tried to pull it up.  Ropes, pulleys, muscle and stubbornness were all employed.  I almost launched myself over the railing one year, all my fault, because I thought it would be a good idea to tie a rope around my waist to pull the tree up.  That was a really bad idea. 

            Once the tree was standing we had to tie it off to the stairs going up to the loft, lift it into the tree stand, and the boys would disappear.  Sometimes they are much smarter than I give them credit for.

            Tree up, kids’ gone hiding, and Mama’s gonna decorate.  Then comes the next fiasco.

            I’d get the ladder out, kitchen chairs and everything else I could think of to climb on.  The hook to the sky-light was a bonus.  We had a sky-light in the master bathroom and it took an extendable hook to crank it open and closed.  That hook worked good hanging ornaments on the tree until I lost the grip on a tree limb. Then the d*&m ornaments got launched!  They didn’t just hit the floor.  They hit the walls, the ceiling…  It was with luck when they actually got hung on the tree.  Glass ornaments had a special place on the tree, within my reach from the floor and above child and pet access.

            Cats and dogs didn’t help.  If you’ve ever had a cat and a big tree you’ll understand this one.  The cats liked to climb into the tree.  The dogs, for whatever reason, wouldn’t chase the cats until they got into the tree.  The kids chased the dogs that chased the cats…  Let the chaos continue!

            The tree has always been down by New Years, with a reason.  The cats and dogs learned to drink out of the tree stand, so by New Years it was a major fire hazard.  I don’t know –why- the water in the tree stand tasted so much better than the water in the pet’s bowls, or the toilet when someone forgot to close the lid, but it apparently did. 

I did manage to get a lil’ smarter when it came to taking down the tree though, after years of practice.  I used a chainsaw in my living room, cut the tree into sections, and out the door it went.  The ornaments went back in their boxes (I’ve got some that are older than me), safely stored away and the tree went in the fire-pit.  I managed to get my house back together without killing anyone – pets or children – so I could do it again in twelve months.

            Happy Holidays, ya’ll!     


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