Mischievous, Merry, and Bright

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Christmas tree–all lit up and decorated. Photo by Cecilia Kennedy

“Interviewing” trees at the local U-cut farm is a grueling process because, in order to be the crowning gem of a memorable holiday hoopla in our house, the tree must have sticky-out branches with the ability to unravel ugly sweaters, goose the cat, and make mischievous, merry, and bright well past the new year. Being able to belt out “Hot Stuff” karaoke style at midnight on New Year’s Eve, would be icing on the 7 ½-foot pine scented cake, but we just can’t get carried away with our expectations. One day, scientists will develop a “Loud Drunk Neighbor” variety and the world will rejoice. A Nobel Prize will be in order for that scientist, but until then, we just have to be patient.

In any case, every year Nate, Alex, and I wander around a tree farm, yelling “Marco-Polo,” when we get separated just two rows down and to the left of one another. After what seems like nearly three hours, I can watch Nate and Alex cut down a tree, while snapping pictures and asking, “Are we done yet?”

This year, once Nate and Alex get our tree tied snuggly to the roof of the car, I can tell that this one will be particularly spunky because it scratches and scrapes at the windows on the way home. When we pull into the driveway (which has no curb cuts, by the way), the car bounces and I see branches sliding down the back of the car.

“Oh, good—there we go. The tree has finally shifted,” Nate says.

I had no idea that “tree shifting” on the way home was a “thing.” I had no idea we were waiting for the tree to shift—as if it were “done—“ as if we had reached the moment when we could say, “Oh, yes! Now it’s ours because no one else will want it.”

The tree doesn’t actually fall from the car, though, and now Nate and Alex have to unravel it from the twine sweater they’ve knitted for it—a sweater, which has probably “shifted” in some way. That’s my cue then, to sit on the couch inside the house and wait another hour or so while Nate and Alex stay outside and wrestle the tree into its stand. I have no idea how this works, but I imagine this process might involve some kind of shoving, sawing, vegetable oil, and shouting, “Get in there, tree! Get in there! Come on!” At least, that’s how I’d do it.

While I wait, I watch the cat rub up against the branches and slowly move his tail back and forth. He likes what he thinks is his present. He clearly does not remember running into the tree last year, late at night when we were asleep and he basically re-enacted the blindfolded driving lesson scene from Taladega Nights. Our tree shook and swayed, but it remained strong. The cat, on the other hand, was so traumatized that he ran to our bedroom and meowed the story loudly in our ears, as if we couldn’t deduce the story already from the sounds we heard.

“I’ve met my match! I give up!” SeaTac meowed—and if we listened closely, we could hear the tree chuckling downstairs because we’d selected it based on its mischievous merry-making skills. So, yeah, the tree won that round. What did the cat expect?

This year, I suspect will be no different. I carefully eye the tree while Nate and Alex make cocoa. And then I see it. A lone branch, in the middle of the tree, appears to move on its own, just for a brief moment and I’m filled with hope. Live tree karaoke technology must be closer than we think.

Your Turn: What are your traditions for decorating during the holiday season? When it comes to the Christmas tree, for instance, we have a particular order: star first, then the lights, the wooden cranberries, smaller ornaments, larger ornaments, and then the icicles, which we bought years ago as singular tin hanging ornaments for individual branches. How about you?

43 thoughts on “Mischievous, Merry, and Bright

  1. My memory of decorating the tree as a child is that my parents usually ended up arguing, although I’m not really sure why or about what. Probably because my dad always had other work to do, and my mother wanted things to be done just so and right then:) My father put up the tree topper and the lights, I believe, and my mom and the three kids did the rest of the decorations, including those skinny strands of silvery paper that we called icicles. The tree topper was an angel that had a red spinner that rotated after it got hot and made beautiful reflections on the silver dome behind the angel. I sure wish that I still had that.

    My own life has evolved so much over the years that I don’t really have a set pattern! Guess that I’m still a work in progress. The funniest memory I have is the year that my two daughters and I had taken in a stray kitten, who liked to climb the Christmas tree AND started to eat the small light bulbs before we realized what was happening! Even so, the cat lived a long life:)

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  2. One of my favorite Christmas tree memories was when I took my 16 year old son and my 25 year old son to a tree farm and it took them two hours o find THE perfect tree. The guy came over with a chainsaw and my youngest says “Do you have a hand saw? This is my first tree and I want to cut it down myself by hand.” I am standing there totally embarrassed, because the guy walked off after handing over the hand saw and didn’t know the whole story. We ALWAYS had a Christmas tree (usually left up for 4 weeks), but it was fake because my then 16 year old had severe allergies. He decided he would manage his allergies that year, but he wanted a real tree.

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    1. It does take a while to find a tree! That’s so funny. I hinted at having a fake tree this year because I’ve developed allergies, but Alex especially was not happy with that idea. So, we have a live one and my allergies are not acting up. Thanks for stopping by!

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    1. Hi Neil. Glad you enjoyed the story! I could try to warn SeaTac, but that does not seem to work:) I actually was hoping that the question about decorating for the holidays would open up opportunities for people to draw from a variety of traditions/experiences–I just gave an example from my own tradition, but feel free to share your memories/stories here any time. Cheers!

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  3. I’m surprised to hear you do star first. That’s always last for us. Regardless, it looks great. Our goofy family thing is to hide these three little santas someone gave us. I put one in a ziplock and then hid it in the big Costco tub of pretzels–hygienic and keeps santa from eating all the pretzels. 😉

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      1. Spent years going to get real ones. We might get a real one this year as the state forest is inundated with conifer seedlings from the nearby plantations – it would be my unauthorised way of contributing to the environmental protection 🙂

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  4. Our traditions consists of me starting out excited to decorate the tree and marvel at all of my beautiful ornaments, then getting sad and losing my excitement as my husband complains the whole entire time about how much he dislikes Christmas and all of the everything involved in it. Yup! Every. Year.

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    1. Oh no! I’m usually one complaining about all of the cards we try to send this time of year, but a festive drink and some fun movies help me get past the work that lies ahead:) Hope you can enjoy the rest of this season–and thanks for visiting!

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      1. Yeah, I decided to only send cards to those that have sent us cards. I’ve always wondered if people did that to us and now I am doing it. If I get a card from someone, I put a card in the mail back. We usually send at least 100 cards. And sadly we only get about 25. Not that I send cards to get cards. I just am not in the card mood this year. And . . . with the rest of it, it is a tradition . . . . my hubby (lovely man, really) complains and has high hissy fits about all the decorating for the first few days, then spends the rest of the season saying how pretty it is and basking in the glow from all of the lights I put up!

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  5. As kids we always had an artificial tree, but as parents my wife and I always got a real tree, somewhere between a 9 ft and a 12 ft Noble Fir, which would last well over a month in our house. It was always a struggle getting such a heavy tree into our house, but I would bring it insight the twine netting around it, cut the twine, and watch it in amazement as it spread out and filled the corner of the living room. After Christmas was over, getting the tree back out the front door was considerably more of a challenge since the twine was long since gone. Sadly, we had to move to an artificial tree in 2013 when my wife got her cancer diagnosis and she couldn’t help me with moving the tree. I still miss the smell of the Noble for at Christmas, the scent sticks we hide in the artificial just don’t cut it! Maybe next year??? Another engaging post, thanks for sharing!

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    1. 9-12 feet is quite a tree! I don’t think we’ve ever had one that tall–sounds fabulous! I’m sorry to hear about your wife’s diagnosis. –sending happy, positive “pine scented” thoughts your way:) Cheers!

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  6. We’ve been able to cut our own trees since we’ve been here. First topping the over-large conifers that are a bit close to the house (four year’s worth) and since then our newly planted trees have been big enough. My husband (who doen’t normally pay much interest to the trees) agonises over which tree is good enough for xmas but won’t be missed from the field.
    We have an angel topper, and for some reason she always has to have the red light at the of the string up her skirt!

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  7. I use to work in a garden centre and selling Christmas trees was my favourite job. It was very heavy work but I loved it. Often very amusing as couples argued over which tree was best. And I’d be stood trying to hold 3 x 8ft trees up as they walked back and forth assessing the size. Artificial at home for practicality and cost. Decorations from forever ago and usually looks like a 3 year old decorated it, I don’t co-ordinate! Like Skyeent, a light goes up our angel’s skirt, a yellow one! I always play a Christmas movie whilst I decorate. This year was ‘Nativity’. One odd tradition we have started is the ‘lighting of the cigar’. We don’t smoke it, but we both have fond memories of family get-togethers that involved lots of drinking and cigar smoking. So we just light one for a while for the smell and the trip down memory lane 🙂 Merry Christmas. Hope your tree isn’t too naughty 😉

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