Hello, darlings! At the moment of this writing, I'm still alive. I apologize to those of you who faithfully check each day to see if I have written anything. It speaks volumes about the boredom you must feel on a regular basis! :) There is probably some kind of way that you can be notified when I actually do update this blog, so that you can forget about me until a message pops up, but I don't know what that would be called or how to do it. :( Anyways, I've had a lot to talk about, but apparently for the past week I've been sick. I didn't really know I was sick till I got well, which seems odd, but that accounts for why I didn't write anything about Thanksmas or any of the other things. However, those stories will have to wait because I have a particular one I want to share first. I shall call it:
OY, CHRISTMAS TREE -or- The Rise and Fall of Griswold.
(This will be better if you imagine Jean Shepherd reading it aloud.)
I'll be honest, the idea of putting up a Christmas tree feels tedious and weird to me at this stage of my life. Don't get me wrong, I'm not hum bugging the idea of a tree, I actually like them a lot! I love the lights and how the room looks when the lamps are off and the ornaments sparkle, but the idea of actually assembling a tree and decorating it feels more like a job than it used to. For Steve, the tree is an important centerpiece on his very favorite holiday, so even if I moan about doing it, I always help him put it up because it SHOULD be a family activity. If I could open the tree, already decorated, like an umbrella, and set it up that would be perfect. However, Disney hasn't perfected that kind of tree yet, so when Christmas comes around, we pull Griswold out of his resting place for the season.
Griswold is the tree we got during the second Christmas after we got married. We call it Griswold in honor of the scene from "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" when the family brings home the tree, brings it into the living room, cuts the rope, and the enormous thing shoves the furniture aside and fills most of the open space with limbs. That is practically what happened the first time we set Griswold up in our (rather small) living room. Gris has been a member of the family ever since, and except for one year, we've faithfully set it up and decorated it every December.
Over the last couple of years, though, I had begun to notice that he was looking a little ragged. Anyone who uses an artificial tree knows what I mean: the limbs start to bend at weird angles and the branches seem to get a bit flat. I knew we were going to have to get a new tree soon, but kept putting it off because Gris had sentimental value, a symbol of a much more innocent time, if you will. I don't exactly know the life span of an artificial tree, but I knew that ours wouldn't last much longer. Also, I was tired of giving up such a chunk of living room space to a tree that was honestly too big for the room. I'd lobbied for a smaller tree, but as I said, Gris is part of the family - and Steve didn't notice he was getting raggedy.
This year, assembling the tree began as usual. Steve pulls the tree out of the over head storage compartment (fake argument #1) and I avoid being in the room while he's setting it up. (This is because he gets snippy when he does this part. If he tells you he doesn't, he LIES!) Anyway, I'm sitting in my office when I hear him say "Ouch!" (injury #1) I don't know what had happened, but I began to worry that he had gotten trapped under the thyroidal monster, so I went in to help him. He was OK, probably just pinched by something, so I sat back in my chair as he began to assemble the tree. He was having problems with the base, and once all of the pieces were up, the tree had a decided lean to it. That was new! Gris was usually trouble free, so we knew something was wrong. Steve disassembled the tree and fooled around with the base...still no joy. He had already handed me the top of the tree, and when he handed me the middle, I couldn't grab it and he snapped at me (Told ya! Real Argument #1) until I grabbed with with my legs. He couldn't figure out what was wrong with it, so about the time he got frustrated, I approached the idea of possibly going out to get another tree! Surprisingly, he agreed. We went out to Hobby Lobby (store #1) to get a new one because they would most likely have a nice one like we wanted. I found one right away, but Steve didn't like it. It had pine cones and was a bit shorter than he wanted. Ok, then...we found a few new ornaments to take home, at least, so it wasn't a total bust! Since we were in the shopping area, we decided to check Target for a tree (store #2). Again, I found one I liked, but it didn't have LED lights (apparently a must). The one we found with LED lights was sold out (although a rather vacuous salesman tried to sell us a floor model - a mislabeled floor model. It was supposedly the tree we were looking for, a pre-lit tree, but the tree had no lights at all on it, which I had to point out.) However, I found packages of silver icicles (which I love but have never thought he'd let me put on an artificial tree, but he will!) and we got 7 packages! Yay! We went home (my fault because I never set my watch back to Central Time after Thanksmas) and when we realized it was still early, we went to Home Depot (store #3), Lowes (store #4), and Wal-Mart (store #5). At each place, I found a tree, but Steve didn't like any of them for one reason or another. Honestly, after Target, I went into "Kill Me" mode. I decided to leave the tree decision up to Steve because he knew what he wanted and I was obviously not sharing his vision. I'm also not proud of this, but in light of full disclosure, I kind of had a come apart at Wal-Mart. I didn't throw things or yell, I do have more class than that, but I was done with it. Getting a Christmas tree shouldn't be as complicated as it had become. I'd run all over the damn town looking for the holy-fracking-grail of Christmas trees, had each and every one of my suggestions disregarded, and not only was I tired and cold, I was pissed. I absolutely HATE when simple things are made to be complicated. Hate. It. There is no reason for it, and at that point, it would have been better to just get a real tree and deal with the loose needles, water, non-symmetry, and possible squirrels. Hell, it might have even been fun to have a non-normal tree (for us) and we could have had a little fun with that, but nope, can't happen. Jesus himself has to surround the tree with angels before we can take it home, and he'd better not forget the LED lights! AHHHHHHHHH! Fudging tree! (Only I didn't say fudge.)
After I cooled off a bit, I realized that since the tree isn't a big deal to me, but it is for Steve, the least I could do is be understanding about it. I was ashamed of myself. I'm not usually that petty and I certainly didn't want to ruin the whole thing for Steve. I seem do that enough about everything else. So when we got home, I helped him try and reassemble Griswold again. We finally got the tree to stand up straight, we still couldn't fix the base, but it seemed stable enough. I crawled under the tree to see if I could figure out what was wrong, but I couldn't find the problem. We were hooking the lights together when Steve said I said "ouch" but I don't remember doing it. What I do remember is climbing out from under the tree and noticing my arm felt cold. I looked down and blood was all over my forearm, from my elbow to halfway to my hand. All I could do was watch as the blood welled up. It didn't hurt, so I think my brain thought I was hallucinating. I actually sat there and watched it while Steve ran to get a paper towel. It was kind of fascinating, really. Once I got the towel on my arm, I noticed that there was blood all over the floor underneath the tree. Nice. So I mopped up what I could see and went to clean my arm off. It still didn't hurt, but it was still bleeding. I have no idea what cut me, and I had no idea I could bleed so much and not even notice! What I do know, is that there shouldn't be forensic evidence left after putting up a tree. When I got cleaned up, I went into my office when I heard the tree come down. I'm not sure if it fell, or if Steve was just pulling it apart, but before I knew it, Steve was repacking it into the box and going to Treetopia (I'd love to get one of the funky trees) to order a new one. Although we were going to have to get rid of Gris, all was right with the world again.
Once we get the new tree, Christmas can begin!