Monthly Archives: December 2017

A Christmas (Tree) Story, or Arthur’s Last Stand

No, nobody got his or her eye shot out. Though I once did shoot my best friend in the eyebrow. With a BB gun. Why’d I shoot at Mike? Because he asked me to. To see if he could dodge it. And I swear I’m not making that up. (Best friends since then be warned.)

But once again our quest for an Xmas – take that Robert Pittenger – tree took us down an unusual road.

Let’s recap some earlier tales of our annual quests for holiday trees and the crimes, near-crimes and misdemeanors that were committed in the process – don’t trust the process!

  • By far the most serious of the crimes was treespassing, which my family committed often when I was a kid. That’s not a typo – it really was treespassing – the practice of trudging through our neighbor’s land and cutting down one of his trees for our house. I wrote about it here.
  • The near-crime – a wardrobe malfunction that could have but didn’t happen – could have caused a scene at the neighborhood CVS. This was just last year, and I detail it in excruciating run-on fashion here.  (I know that’s not a great call-to-action, but hey. Either you want to read my ramblings or you don’t, and if you’ve made this far, you’re probably all in.
  • The misdemeanor – near-child near-endangerment – happened when Karen, at the time 13 months pregnant with our first child, and I took our tree quest to a cut-your-own yule tree lot in Cat Square. In Lincoln County. Near Gastonia. In a driving sleet storm. (Not our finest moment.) I wrote about it here.

As it happens, sleet – and snow – played a part in this year’s adventure as well.

That’s because we’d planned to get the tree Friday night and put it up and decorate it Saturday and Saturday night, respective, so that we (and by we I mean I) could watch the Panthers game on TV Sunday. We generally wait a bit longer than most folks to get a tree because we like to leave it up a little longer – at least until New Year’s.

But the weather wasn’t great in the Greater Indian Trail Metro Friday night. It was snowy, sleety and cold. Neither Karen nor I wanted anything to do with driving the three miles or so to the lot we now frequent. We decided we’d go Saturday morning, which certainly would keep my Panthers plans on track.

Except Saturday morning turned into mid-Saturday afternoon. The guy who runs the lot, Steve, was stuck in the mountains with a truckload of trees, so we didn’t have many to choose from. But we found one we liked – though I distinctly remember mentioning that I thought the trunk might have been crooked …

Anyway, Steve’s brother trimmed the end off, bagged it, and tied it to the car. We got it home without incident. And that’s when I discovered how heavy it was.

Karen had to go to the grocery store, so we (and by we I mean I) took it into the garage. Truth is, it needed to dry out a bit anyway.

So we (and by we I mean I) didn’t take it into the house until she got back and we (and by we I mean we) put the groceries away. It was around 6:30 or so, I guess, when we started the effort to put it in the stand.

This is usually the strained part of holiday tree decorating in our house. I hold the tree, Karen screws it in and then we see if it’s straight. Or straight enough. Spoiler alert: It never is. Lather, rinse and repeat, until we get it right, at which point we’re generally to frustrated to decorate.

But this night was different. It was special. We got it in the stand, straight enough, the first time. Or did we?

Luckily, we took a break to eat a quick dinner. Which was a good thing. Because less than an hour later, the still naked tree fell.

So some Buffalo chicken sliders and potato skins later, we tried again, even tilting it a bit – we thought – so that if it fell, it fell backwards. It stayed that way the rest of the night – we decided we’d put off the decorating until Sunday morning. Panthers vs. Vikings was till looking good. I was confident.

You can see what’s coming, of course. I got up Sunday morning and found the tree had fallen again, after having been upright for at least seven hours.

What this told me was that the tree was just too heavy – and slightly crooked – for our stand. We thought about possible solutions:

  • Ditch the tree and buy an artificial one. This will happen at some point, we concede. We just won’t be able to handle putting it up.
  • Adopt a new concept. Let the tree stay horizontal and pile the presents up around (and over) it. I like breaking ground, but it might be confusing for my grandson, Samuel.
  • Buy another *#:!@)^& tree stand – we’d gone through days in which we purchased tree stands every other year, it seemed. But we thought we were done with that. Thought being the operative word …

So I took to the Interwebs to find a better tree stand. Which I did. It’s a monster. With iron legs and stuff and billed as the last one you’ll ever have to buy.

It had better be because it cost more than tree itself. But at 9 a.m. Sunday I was dragging my sorry butt to the Lowe’s in Monroe – the one near my house didn’t have any. How different was this stand? They didn’t even display it with the plastic stuff – it had it’s own space near the register. Outside. Which meant I had to actually talk to someone to buy it. Bah, humbug!

The good news. It worked. We installed the tree and it is solidly in there, standing strong and tall. We decorated during the game and had it ready when Sam came over. And the wonder in his eyes and voice as he studied the ornaments made it worth the price and effort and frustration and delay.

Arthur’s last stand? Probably. Because that horizontal tree(TM) is sounding better all the time.

Happy Holidays, all! Except for a certain Washington, D.C., resident whose heart is at least five sizes too small.





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