Now that Halloween and Thanksgiving are behind us, I wanted to officially ring in the holiday season. I thought it would be fun to have a weekful of posts to celebrate Christmas and all the good tidings that come with it.
What is Christmas without the tree? The turkey and stuffing aren't even lukewarm yet and we're digging out shiny ornaments. The Christmas tree is the pinnacle of holiday decorating and must be done with care and love and hot chocolate. And maybe even a little wild-eyed madness and no less than 500 twinkling lights. We have a tree every year, and we always revel in the process of searching, decorating and then enjoying. But nothing will ever compare to our first Christmas. Our first tree...
For Keith and I's first Christmas in 2002, we headed up to Whitehorse in the Yukon to pick out our first Christmas tree. I was giddy with excitement, Charlotte Church was belting out Oh Come All Ye Faithful, and the world was covered in sparkling snow. It was the perfect day.
Whitehorse is 110 miles up this road:
It was a beautiful clear winter day, which turned into a beautiful clear winter night. Clear skies in the North mean one thing: COLD. We spent the day shopping and saved the tree for last. We were all set to tie it to the top of the car for the journey home. We came prepared with lots of rope and a new blue tarp. After much picking and choosing, we had our prize tree all paid for and lugged out to the car. The guy who we bought the tree from even walked us out. I thought he was so nice and was going to help Keith strap on the tree, while I sat warming in the car. No such luck. He just wanted to let us know we dropped our receipt as we were leaving. And when I asked him if he WOULD, in fact, help Keith tie down the tree while I warmed in the car, his answer was a resounding NO. I thought he was joking at first, but then he turned around and left us in the dark parking lot. Something about liabilities...I think he was aiming for Santa's Naughty List.
So I set out to help Keith myself, and only mumbled once or twice. I'm really a California girl deep down, and it was bitterly cold. About -40 below zero, to be exact. Now, since we have a city car, there is no rack or spiffy little hooks or anything to tether the tree down to. No biggee. We wrapped that tree up in the tarp like a big Christmas burrito and very carefully stretched it across the top of the car, from hood to trunk. Then we tied it down to the bumpers in front and back of the car. Piece of cake. We don't need any retail guy to help us tie down OUR tree!
And by the time we had backed out of our parking place and aimed for the exit, the tree had rolled off the top of the car and was hanging pathetically on the side of the passenger door. Great. So we try round two. We're still having fun at this point. It's Christmas time and we have a tree! This time, we decide to roll the windows down an inch on both sides of the car and thread the ropes around the top of the car through the windows, tightly securing the tree to the top of the car. It's a foolproof solution. I can't feel my face, but man alive, that tree is getting tied to the car. I might have blocked it out, but I am fairly certain that as Keith was tossing me the rope over the top of the car, it hit me in the face. I think I was too frozen to say any bad words at that point, but I am sure I said them on the inside. After about 45 minutes of true Boy Scout knot-tying, we were absolutely positive this tree was not going to budge an inch. And neither were we, since our grand plan to wrap the rope around the car through the windows very successfully resulted in tying our car doors shut. With us on the outside.
That's when the tears came.
Christmas became less and less jolly as we spent the next hour untying the tree and re-tying it, but this time, leaving the windows all the way down so we can climb into the car. Finally, we were leaving the parking lot. It was a Christmas miracle. Ten miles down the road, the tree fell off the car. Now I hate Christmas. Why couldn't we just go back to Halloween and stay there? So we pulled into a gas station and tried to avoid the stares as we rolled down our windows and climbed out of the car without opening our doors. And as I stood there, contemplating how many ways there were to tie a tree to the roof of the car, the truck in front of us backed up and took out our front end. And I didn't even care. Are you insured? Great, give us your name and we'll talk later. One crisis at a time folks. The guy felt so bad for hitting our car, he offered to help us with our tree problem. I fell in love with him right there on the spot. This time, I DID sit in the car while the menfolk did the tying and tethering. I was just so excited to have my tears thaw out. And before I knew it, we were back on the road. We made it about 25 miles this time and the tree was on the side of the highway, laying in a pitiful blue heap in the middle of the Yukon. I wanted to leave it there and just go home. It was apparent that our car had a protective force field around it, preventing any tree life forms from setting up camp. I hated Christmas and was mad at all the trees. Keith had something to prove, to me or the tree, I don't know which, but he tied the thing to the car again. I just kept thinking that if we hadn't gone shopping, we could have shoved the thing in the trunk. Right alongside all those shiny ornaments we had carefully chosen, back when we had dreams of actually trimming our tree. As it was, our tree was getting trimmed a little bit each time it took a nose-dive off the roof of the car. Four hours later, when we finally got home, the tree was considerably less full. It was after midnight, but I was bound and determined to see that tree standing upright with twinkly lights. Keith mumbled something about committing me when I handed him the tree stand, but one glance at the crazed look in my eyes had him untangling lights in no time. I had crossed over to the dark side and wasn't afraid to drag him there with me. I spent the next few hours decorating the tree precisely so, while Keith napped on the couch, all the while, thinking "I WIN!". And when I ran out of ornaments halfway through the tree, Keith didnt even roll his eyes when I said we had to go back to Whitehorse to get more. Today.
In the end, our tree turned out beautiful. We kept it up until Valentine's Day. I had something to prove. And in the year's since, getting our tree has been much less traumatic. But even now, as we sit on the couch watching the cats obliterate the bottom layer of ornaments, we still laugh at that first tree. It will be a story that will keep us laughing for many more years.
To celebrate the Week of Christmas, join me in sharing your own stories this week. Leave a comment, share it on your blog, or sit down with a friend and a cup of cocoa. It's so easy to get trapped in the chaotic hustle and bustle of the holidays. This year, remember to take it easy once in a while, if not just for long enough to gaze at your tree.
I love this little line of snowmen Christmas fabric from Henry Glass. The colors are warm, and really, who doesn't like snowmen? If you'd like this little bundle of four half yards to come live at your house, please leave a comment. Tell me what you prefer....white or colored tree lights? I'll put all your names in a bowl and get Keith to pick a lucky winner tomorrow morning.