The Christmas tree stands at the center of our celebrations. We remember the giddy excitement of small children looking in wonder and bursting with anticipation at the coming of Santa Claus. We remember the excitement of Christmas morning-gifts and wrapping paper everywhere, breakfast around the tree. Now we gather around the tree with our grown children, grateful that they are home for the holidays. Wonder and anticipation bid welcome to conversation and contentment.
I always have a 10′ tree. I can’t afford a 10′ tree so I gamble every year, waiting until the last minute when my 10′ tree has been reduced in price from $175. to $50. It’s risky, but I’ve only missed out once. Those last trees on the lot are destined for the chipper. I think they know it too. The stand a little taller and you can almost hear them whisper “pick me. Pick me.”. And once rescued, they love you. They don’t shed needles and they don’t die. If you drive down my street in late January, my tree will still be lit in the window.
Last year Denise decided she’d like a big tree too. We went to the lot in separate cars. The plan was that she would follow me home, help me get my tree into the house and into the stand. I would then follow her to do the same. I waited in my driveway but when she didn’t show, I thought I’d misunderstood. I got the tree in the house and in to the stand. I was just about to drive to Denise’s house, when my phone rang. “My tree fell off the car on the bridge.” she said in a voice mixed with horror and hilarity. “Luckily, not off the bridge and in to the river, but on the bridge, in the middle of my lane. No one stopped to help me. People honked and gestured, not a happy holiday gesture either, but no one stopped to help me”. It’s one thing to get a big tree in to the house. It’s another to pick up a big tree from the pavement, on a busy three lane road, get it back on the roof of your car and not die in the process. It was a homeless man, fishing at the bottom of the bridge, who finally helped her. Every time we looked at her tree after that we laughed and we laughed even harder when we imagined what would have happened if it had gone over the bridge and in to the river.
What I didn’t tell her about a big tree that doesn’t die is this: when it’s time to take it down, it doesn’t go out the door. Its lower branches have relaxed so it’s much wider than it was when you brought it in to the house. That means you have to get your big clippers and start cutting the lower branches off until it will fit out the door. And if you don’t judge it right, your neighbors see you with a Christmas tree half in and half out of your front door-stuck. They might smile as they watch you push it back in to the house for another go with the clippers, but it’s the big pull that lands you on your butt on the porch that turns those grins into snickers. This year Denise will buy a normal sized tree. I won’t.
Denise may buy a smaller tree but this year she will have two trees. She is a long time Star Trek fan. While you’ll never see her in costume at a Trekkie convention, she has a collection of Star Trek ornaments she has acquired over the years. They found their spots on her tree but she wanted more for them. We are real tree people. We, unfairly perhaps, look askance at those who take their trees out of closets, sometimes fully decorated. But, in a stroke of Christmas genius, Denise realized a fake white tree would be the perfect venue for her Star Trek ornaments to finally get their due. And being the more creative of the two of us, she even made the tree skirt. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in her front door and it elicits the perfect Christmas response: merriment.
No recipes this week. We’re getting ready for holiday baking. But here are the directions for making Denise’s tree skirt. Pictures don’t do it justice.
Christmas Tree Skirt
- 2 yards ornamental netting (purchased at fabric store)
- festive ribbon
- about 80 light string
Roll out fabric, place lights inside of netting, tie ribbon at about 1 – 1/2 foot spaces. Place as a skirt at bottom of tree and light up. How beautiful!