Thursday, December 13, 2012

My least favorite job of the year

The f-----g Christmas tree is up.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Christmas trees. Once they are decorated with tinsel, lights, ornaments and the other shit people hang on them, they are beautiful.

But that’s not my department. It’s my wife’s, who knows where to place each ornament for maximum aesthetic effect.

My job is to go to the nursery on the coldest day of the year; pick out a tree from the hundreds dangling from the rafters like corpses on gallows; say "yes" to the guy with the chain saw when he asks, “Do you want a clean cut?” and then watch dumb-struck as he proceeds to slash the trunk at a 45-degree angle, ensuring it can’t possibly fit flush against the bottom of the stand; tip the kid who straps it to the top of the car; drive home; roll the tree off the car's roof, leaving scratch marks; carry it into the family room; place it in tree stand #1 while my wife tries to hold it straight only to discover the trunk is too fat to fit into it; place it in stand #2 and discover that doesn’t fit either; then screw the trunk into stand #3 which is approximately the size of the one used to hold the tree at Rockefeller Center, that gouges the hardwood floor, causing my wife to call me names and provoking me to call her names back.

We then place a garbage bag under the stand as a moisture barrier to protect the floor for the inevitable moment our dachshund, Billy Ray, hikes his leg on it. (Who can blame him? The rest of the year he earns Cesar Softie treats for peeing on trees. Two weeks a year he gets yelled at. I’d be confused, too.)

This year's tree, according to the tag, was grown in some Quebec town whose name in English means, “We grow trees with hopelessly crooked trunks to sell to stupid Americans." As always, I had to place magazines under one side of the stand to create the illusion the tree is perfectly straight. Truth be told, the tree's wobbly but I take no responsibility for it from this point on. I’ve done my job.

When I was a kid in Missouri, we never had fancy store-bought trees. Everyone cut down cedar trees from the side of the highway. The wonderful aroma of cedar is the smell I associate most with Christmas. Canadian balsams may look more like traditional Christmas trees, but they have no smell at all. Might as well be plastic. 

I’m exhausted and it’s only 4:30 in the afternoon but here in Connecticut it’s already pitch-black outside. I’m going upstairs and take a nap with my Shetland pony-sized grand-dog, Topanga. When I come down in a couple of hours the tree will be decorated impeccably and my wife will be smiling proudly, proclaiming it to be the most beautiful one we’ve ever had.

At which point Topanga will stand up on her hind legs, lean against the tree to inspect the dachshund angel we top it with, and knock it over. Just like she did last year. And the year before.

This year, I swear, I’m going to leave it lying on its side until Christmas Eve when our sons arrive home.

If they want a tree that stands up straight, fine -- they can fix it themselves. 

No comments:

Post a Comment