"Honey, are you ready to set up the Christmas trees?" My wife asks in the sweetest voice she can muster. An audible groan escapes my lips. No I am not ready, and it doesn't appear I ever will be ready. I would be more ready to take a serious beating, maybe two beatings.
Christmas for us starts on Veteran's Day, a bit earlier than most people. My wife Deanna absolutely loves Christmas and her philosophy is that you can only enjoy the decorations for a short time each year so you might as well stretch it out as long as you can. I don't mind the decorations at all. The kids enjoy it and if it is something that makes my family happy I'm all for it.
What I don't like is setting up the trees and what I REALLY don't like is stringing the lights. Deanna and I are perfectionists and this means there is a minimum requirement of lights per square footage of tree that must be upheld. If there's not enough lights scattered proportionally throughout it's not worth having a tree up at all. This was not a problem in our "shoebox" apartment at North Dakota State University. Our tree was only 3 feet tall. Now we have this 9 foot monstrosity that I like to call the bane of my existence.
It looks so small in this picture. Every time I try to add up the number of lights on this beast I lose count but I know for a fact there are at least 1,000. Over the years we've found that it just doesn't look right if you just circle the tree hanging lights on the outside edges of the branches. You get a much better effect if you weave in and out and get the lights further inside the tree as well. As I said, not a problem with a 3 foot tree. But when I throw a 150 bulb string and barely cover the bottom row of branches I start to weep.
It further adds to my consternation that no matter how hard I try to hook up and tear down and store all these lights as carefully as possible it never fails that there are 3-4 strings that refuse to light the following year. I don't appreciate having to keep buying all these lights every Christmas. Last year one string waited until it was on the tree for a week before deciding to go out and I refused to replace it because it was all tangled up with the other lights and ornaments and it would have been a real mess. I heard about the "bare section" all season long and need I remind you this started before Thanksgiving? So now every time I hit the switch I say a little prayer, "Lord, let there be light......" And there is, whew! "Thank you Lord!"
Still in spite of all my "Scrooginess" I do enjoy it once everything is up. The kids really like it and this year we were blessed by them both getting along, usually there's fighting over who gets to hang up what ornament and so on. We had the Charlie Brown Christmas video going and had a great time. We all have our favorite ornaments. Mine are the vintage airplanes. I've got the Wright Brothers flyer and Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis and a "Gee Bee" which was popular during the airplane races in the early 30's and a very treacherous aircraft to fly.
We've also got some smaller trees in the kid's rooms. I always do the monster tree first because putting the kid's trees up seems like a cake walk after that. Here is Brian's. Please excuse the blurry image. Deanna is the digital camera master. I can't seem to take very good pictures and she was working when I took these. Note the Coors Field sign on the wall. Courtesy of Grandpa and Grandma Meissner who used to live in the Denver area.
And of course, those of you with children know you can't give something to one child without giving to the other so Brianna has her own tree as well. I like the signs we've got in her room. "Dream" and "Relax", some things I need to do when I'm struggling with the 10th string of lights.
Still, I really can't complain. It's done now for another year. I don't mind the tear down half as much as the setting up and we've got all the pesky little green shrapnel that you get every time you set up a fake tree vacuumed up. I also noticed the other day the neighbor behind us tramping over his roof setting up the outside lights which is something I've so far avoided. When I see someone struggling with their lights outside I don't mind my predicament quite as much.
I know I'm a little early since it's not even Thanksgiving. But I do hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas! And may all your decorating be stress-free!