Sunday, December 23, 2007

Signs of Christmas 3

Saturday we finally put up the tree - probably the latest we've ever done it. Things have to come down from up high in the garage (it's an artificial tree - allergies to real ones). Things must be gotten out of the attic. The tree itself is over 20 years old, and the tree pole, which has holes drilled into it for the branches to be inserted, is splinted like a boyscout first aid exercise, with the handles from an old fireplace tool set and (what else) duct tape. It's all hidden inside the tree, so it's OK, and it's fun to extend the life of dear old things.

I put together the pole and home-made wooden base (must be bigger and broader than normal; we have cats! - so it has extensions like outriggers to prevent capsizes). Then I searched for the tree skirt which must be put over the pole before any branches are put on. Couldn't find it. Searched the boxes again. Searched the garage. Finally searched the attic and found it in a bag I'd handled twice but thought was unrelated to Christmas.

So when I got back down, and we started, now about thirty minutes later than intended due to the tree skirt episode, I decided a tranquilizer was in order. Even at 10:00 in the morning there is nothing like a finger of Benedictine and Brandy to change one's view. The tree project looked quite different through the goldfish bowl of my snifter - before and (here in the photo) after we finished. The glass is empty, so you know my mood has already been elevated. For years my father would get a bottle of B&B for Christmas from our parish priest in New York - and he didn't like it (though he never told Father Kranch that). Now I ask for it for Christmas whenever I run out (it takes a while to finish even a small bottle, since I only drink it during this season).

With carols on and the Christmas elixir coursing through my veins, I let our eight year old put the tree together. I brought branches to him as he worked. He needed a footstool to finish the top, but he did the whole thing and was quite pleased. I've found that kids LOVE to have control while the grown ups play the supporting roles. And with my patience augmented with some of the good monks' tawny blend, I enjoyed his pleasure even more than usual.

Then I did the lights, which I prefer to put on after I've plugged them in. I like handling the brightly colored strands - it feeds my color sweet tooth. This year we have inherited two old beautiful crystal bulb strands from dear wife's childhood. They are persnickety, and go out if nudged, but one strand of these old lights is more beautiful
than all the others combined.

Then silver garlands to fill in the old sparse tree, and we're ready for ornaments later - probably after dark, when it will feel more like Christmas.

We have been collecting ornaments since before we were married, and we continue to find each other one or two every year. It's a wonder we can get them all on the tree. Every year the first to go on is Yule Tunes - the first ornament we bought after we were married.

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