Off the Beat: The trials and tribulations of setting up a Christmas tree

December 11, 2012 09:22 pm

I woke up Sunday like a little kid on Christmas: jumping up and down, hooting and hollering, ready to rip the wrapping paper off all my presents in a matter of seconds. It was time to pick out my Christmas tree! 

I had the expedition all planned out: my coworker Jane and I would go pick out the most beautiful tree that smelled nice and was about 3 feet tall, we’d easily load it onto my car, the two of us would lug it up the stairs into my apartment and after a few short minutes it would be in the stand ready to decorate. Easy peasy, I thought.

Well, part of that plan turned out to be true. 

I did select a gorgeous tree, it does fill my apartment with a wonderful aroma and it was painless to load onto Jane’s bike rack (we figured her bike rack would work much better than the roof of my tiny Honda Civic).

But the rest? ... More like a comedy of unfortunate events.

It’s not 3 feet tall (it’s almost 25), and the stand part – well … that will take some explaining. 

Once the tree was in said apartment, Jane and I lifted it into the stand. I held the tree at a perfect 90 degrees (or what I thought was straight) while Jane attempted to tighten the screws. 

“Okay you can let go now. Let’s see if it stays.”

I lifted a pinky. The tree crashed on top of Jane. 

In the meantime my neighbor walked upstairs. Her face instantly puzzled up as if she were witnessing a 3-year-old driving a school bus full of students. Jane is hunched under the tree trying to work her screw-tightening magic and I’m gingerly holding the tree upright with a demoralized look on my face. I DO NOT like sap, and I’m doing everything in my power to make sure absolutely none gets on me. Forget about holding the tree up. 

“So is the tree straight?” I asked the neighbor.

Without wasting a second, “No, you need to move it to the right. … My right.”

AKA another 45 degrees.

And Jane finally had the tree secure. “Let go,” she said.

It toppled into the window. 

After calculated debate, Jane and I determined the root of the problem – the base of the tree had a mind of its own. It was slightly crooked. Well, a lot crooked. Too bad Jane and I forgot to check the trunk at the tree store.

But we concurred the removal of a few branches would do the trick.

“Do you have a saw?” Jane asked. 

“I have pliers!” “I have wrenches!”

Screwdrivers, hammers, you name it, but no saws.

Luckily, Jane had a Swiss Army knife. 

After we were both dripping in sweat from sawing off one branch an hour, Jane and I were back in action.

You know the routine. Hoist the tree up, pray I put it in the stand straight, tighten the screws. 

Voilá! It didn’t topple over! It stood straight! It didn’t hit Jane! And after a few tree stand turns, we found the perfect position!

Then I was reminded trees need water.

“Do you have a cup of water?” Jane said. I returned with a ¼ measuring cup full.

“Uh ... do you have anything bigger?” Jane responded while trying to stifle a laugh. “You’ll be running back and forth a million times if you use that.”

I appeared from the kitchen with a large cereal bowl. Jane smiled, and returned with two bowls, filled to the brim with water. A few trips and 27 bowlfuls later, the tree is hydrated.

Now onto the lights.Yank them out of the box, plug them in and make sure they all work, check. Put the first strand on the tree, add the second and the third. Wait! There is no third! 

The last few branches are bare. I don’t want a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Guess it’s time for a trip to Fred Meyer.

Purchase the lights and a few pounds of much-needed chocolate, add them to the tree — the lights that is, not the chocolate.

Now I collapse. Guess I should have listened to my wise coworker who told me trees are a lot of work. It was Jane, actually.

I think I’ve had enough for the day. Tomorrow I’ll tackle the ornaments. Hopefully they don’t fall off. ...