My wrists are still sore. From ringing out my own neck. From ringing the necks of the ones I love. And I think I'm going to rename the tree trimming process the neck ringing process. Because, really, in the end....it's never that fun.
I don't want to rain on your parade.
So stop reading if you're looking for something that happifies the hussy.
Because this ain't it.
I have memories of hardened dialogues between my parents as we maneuvered through the maze of choose and cut Christmas trees. My mom liked them short and fat...just like her. My dad didn't. Joy to the World.
I remember the tinsel (THE TINSEL!) having to be put on each branch one strand at a time, per my father's guidance. And then yes, I would be the one to have to pull each one of these strands off after the new year so that the little birds in the swamp we threw the exhausted tree into wouldn't die in a tangled aluminum straight jacket. Joy to the World.
Fights about who gets to put the angel on top. Colored lights or white. Who gets to put which ornament up where. Stringing popcorn strands with popcorn that evaporates when you stick a needle through it. Joy to the World.
And yes, I still am the one who vacuums up the fallen needles and breaks her back to water the damn thing every day.
And, still, we do it.
The boys were 4 months old, wrapped in fleece and tucked deeply in two Bjorns strapped to Paul Bunyan and me. High up in the Starksboro hills at the Harris Plimpton household. We walked to Allan Robert's tree farm, the next house over. He was still selling trees for $19 at that time. Allan's house looks out onto a huge hill, one big field. The Christmas trees are at the top. The girls were almost 3. Paul Bunyan pulled them in a sled. He traversed the high road toward the far end of the field. Mud and I followed behind. Her hounds were all around. Paul Bunyan decides to point the girls down the hill. And let go. We still don't know why. They start moving. They are three. They move faster. Paul Bunyan starts chasing them. One of the boys is on his chest. Mud starts yelling "BAIL. BAIL." The girls are three. They are headed for the row of trees at the bottom of the hill. They move faster. Paul Bunyan stops chasing and watches in disbelief. I am speechless. Mud keeps yelling "BAIL. BAIL". But they are three. They slam into the Norway Spruce trees at the bottom of the hill and miraculously bounce off the low branches. They are crying when we reach them. But okay. We still don't know why.
Since then the stories are, in comparison, boring but frought with whining and crying and pouting.
Joy to the World.
And as of late, within the last three years, I have experienced a physical reaction to the cutting down of a perfectly beautiful tree just for the two weeks we "need" it to decorate and put gifts under. I start to hyperventilate and slightly cross the border of unconsciousness until Paul Bunyan pulls me back by ringing my neck and saying, "It's for the children you idiot." But still I try as I might to find an alternative. The last two years I've tried to buy a beautiful white fir, still with its root ball, to bring into the house for one night and then bury in the ground the day after Christmas. And then Paul Bunyan pulls me back by ringing my neck and says, "It's for the children you idiot." And then last Christmas I drew a picture of the wood tree I wanted Paul Bunyan to make for me with all these sanded wooden branches that we could stick in holes drilled in a beautiful sanded log, which would stand vertically in a home-made stand. Paul Bunyan rung my neck again. I know it's for the children. I'm sick of all this neck ringing. Children...grow up! I tell ya. There is no such thing as Santa Clause!!
But fortuitously this year we had a tornado rip through the homestead last week. And lo' and behold we have a dozen or so trees already down thanks to Mother Nature. And so Paul Bunyan showed me an option.
Here she be.
And look he didn't even need to break a sweat with a silly little hand saw.
You might think Paul Bunyan is happy about this tree based on what appears to be a smile on his face. Well, you're wrong. I happened to catch Paul in mid-word. He was telling me how UGLY my choice was. Let the neck ringing commence.
And Timmy, who also called it UGLY when he first saw it, got his neck rung.
And Claire, who wouldn't listen to please WAIT to put another ornament on until daddy drills the sucker to the floor to keep it falling on your face, she got her neck rung.
And Auggie, who kept opening ornament boxes despite me telling him three times that they were emptied already, he got his neck rung.
And everyone ended up in their rooms, except me. I am sore from the neck ringing but I'm happy. Because I got my way. I got my white lights. I got me a Charlie Brown tree that I didn't have to cut down. I got the ornaments I wanted up. And I think she's beautiful.
It's not even Christmas and I'm already looking forward to next year's neck ringing. Joy!