Yo Christmas Tree
As God is his witness my husband will not abide a fake tree for the holidays. Where this commitment to natural evergreens comes from, I don’t know. Had he been raised on a Montana Christmas tree farm and his family driven out of business by the excesses of the corporate fake Christmas tree industry, I might understand it. But the man grew up in Flatbush so it’s not like he and his dad were out cutting down Christmas trees with an axe every holiday season. In Brooklyn real Christmas trees can only be acquired by ambushing tourists in Times Square and taking theirs.
In deference to his need for a recently-deceased tree to adorn our home at Christmas, every year we celebrate the holidays by gathering ‘round Ye Olde Tannenbaum to decorate with our odd assortment of Christmas tree ornaments, most of which are missing limbs for reasons that you are about to find out, and then we step back to admire our handy work. Then we shout, “Timber!” Because for the fourth time in the last six years, the goddamned tree has tipped over after we finished decorating it.
A fully loaded Christmas tree falling over has a certain sound that you will never forget once you’ve heard it …four times. Imagine British Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson in full military dress, his chest full of war medals, and now imagine him having one too many egg nogs and hitting the ship deck face first. It sounds just like that. Following that there is the rush of water out of the tree stand accompanied by the sound of a dog lapping up the puddle off the floor because, you know, we don’t give her any water in her water dish ever which is why piney fresh, sap-tainted tree water is so precious to her. Immediately following this is the sound of someone’s wife saying, “That is IT! Next year we’re getting a fake tree! I am SICK OF THIS!” In the background, children are weeping softly.
Getting a fake tree is an idle threat, however, because a real Christmas tree makes my husband happy. Or rather, having a fake tree would make him unhappy, and unhappy husbands have a way of ruining the holiday mood, especially when they start drinking and muttering about nobody having any standards anymore because fake trees are morally WRONG and the day he gets a fake Christmas tree is going to be the day he starts using moisturizer and wearing sandals because that’s a day that is never going to come and if it ever does, we’ll all know he’s gone cold and dead inside, and when THAT happens, then you can get your damned fake tree. Our compromise is that we have rigged up a guy-wire between the Christmas tree and the wall. You know why it’s called a guy-wire, right? Because some guys from Brooklyn will never stand down on the real Christmas tree thing. Not ever.
And so every year I must reconcile myself to picking up the pieces of our toppled tree and vacuuming pine needles out of the rug until Arbor Day. Perhaps next year I will find a store that sells rubber Christmas tree ornaments, or better yet, maybe next Christmas we can save some wear and tear on everybody’s nerves and just set the stupid tree up horizontally. We’ll call it “Brooklyn-style.”