Day Two: Oh Christmas tree

Pre-lit tree, not cooperating. Image: Cathi Kern Borushek for mutterhood

Oh Christmas Tree, in four scenes:

The day after Thanksgiving, bring down the box from the attic. Place in usual corner. Open box, pull out three pieces of pre-lit artificial Nordic pine …

Screw the middle section to base, then attach top section. Gently pull apart branches to form conical pine tree shape and tuck in lights. Insert plug into outlet and stand back. Smile at white lights at bottom and top of tree; frown at dark middle section. Unplug lights, drive to Home Depot for box of white lights. Return home, tuck new lights among middle-section branches, plug into new extension cord also purchased at Home Depot, reattach top section, plug pre-lit strand into extension cord, plug extension cord into wall, stand back and admire. Notice new lights are LED while pre-lit strands are not. Decide it’s good enough and move on to ornaments. Finish decorating and admire. Eat leftover pie.


Thanksgiving weekend, get the kids up early and load everyone in the car. Stop at Dunkin Donuts on the way out of town. Drive three hours to the Christmas tree farm you went to when you were a kid. Pull into the parking lot, buy more hot chocolate and apple cider doughnuts, hop on the horse-drawn carriage and ride out to the trees. Carrying the hack saw, walk the rows to find the perfect tree. Lay belly-down on the cold, frozen ground and start sawing. Timber. Drag the tree by the trunk back to the wagon and ride back to the parking lot. Tell kids to use the bathroom while you and the guy tie the tree to the roof of the car. Start home. Check the rearview mirror after half an hour to see everyone asleep. Arrive home, untie the tree, drag it up the front stairs, set it up in the red and green stand, add water, admire. Decorate, then take a nap.


The first Saturday of December, pile everyone into the SUV and drive to Bob’s Tree Farm, the temporary tree lot in the abandoned greenhouse and nursery four blocks from your house. Pull into the lot, park next to the dirty white mini-trailer where the guys stay warm, pile out and walk the aisles of balsams, spruces and frazier firs. Touch branches, estimate height, gasp at price. Let kids pick one out; ignore bare spot in front. Find the guy to give it a fresh cut and tie it on top of the car. Back out carefully, avoiding the family standing behind your car and the empty beer cans scattered on the gravel. Drive home slowly while the tree rolls around the roof. At home, untie the tree, pull it off the car, drag it up the front stairs and into the living room. Prop it into the red and green stand, spend 20 minutes getting it to stand up straight, sweep up needles, arrange tree skirt. Comment that the pine smell always reminds you of Christmas. Decorate, then watch college football.


“Screw the tree, I’m too tired to put it up this year.” — Mom.

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