The tree has arrived and stands naked in the corner of my living room in all its glory just waiting for its starring moment. I can’t believe I wasn’t going to get one this year and, were it not for the generosity and insistence of my band of unrelenting merrymakers, aka best friends ever, I would not have. After Christmas is over and the year wears on (and this one seemed interminable) I always forget how much I love a tree, the way it fills my small home with its fresh pine scent and the warmth and cheeriness it gives the house when fully decked out.
I love my tree so much that each year I risk pneumonia so that it may live long and prosper. The heating vent above the tree is carefully closed off and I piled on warm layers of clothes so that I can keep the household temperature at a balmy (if you live in Antarctica) fifty degrees so as not to dry out my beauty. The one exception is the night of my tree-trimming party when the house is a toasty seventy-two until I’m sure everyone is sloshed enough that they won’t notice me turn the thermostat down again. You’d think over the years they’d get wise to this trick, but we are a close-knit group so a few additional hugs for the transfer of body warmth hardly raises an eyebrow.
The work begins several days ahead of the party when I, and only I, put the lights on. And I like a lot of lights. I’ve lost count of how many 300-string babies I weave together, but I know it far exceeds the warning on the boxes. Warnings are for sissies and corporate lawyers. It is in my anal nature to control the placement of every single bulb on every single string and no one who has foolishly tried to help me with this task has ever repeated the offer.
With “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” blaring from my boom box, I begin. I start at the very bottom, clawing my way through the prickly pine needles, meticulously winding the lights up and over branches and tightly around the trunk all the way to the top. Suffice it to say it requires bodily dexterity that would make a reader of the Kama Sutra blush. Arriving at the top, I then weave the lights in toward the trunk and out toward the room, careful to cover each and every layer of branches all the way around and back down to the bottom where I started. When lit, the result never fails to dazzle and if there are a few brown-outs in neighboring counties, so be it.
Come party time, the ornaments are unpacked and throughout the evening friends pick and place their favorites. By the end of the night, usually all of them have managed to make it onto the tree and in surprisingly good order at that. I may rearrange one or two the next day when I’m sober, but for the most part they do me proud.
It takes so much effort to put the tree up, and once it’s done it’s so beautiful, that I would happily leave it up all year if possible. I think my personal best was January 15th. Plus, and I know this will come as a shocker, it’s not as easy as one might think to garner much enthusiasm for a taking-down-the-tree-party. It would seem that by then everyone has moved on to football playoffs and so that lonely task falls to me. But I don’t have to think about it for a while and besides ... that’s another story.