I am a fanatic about Christmas and always have been. Since I was a little girl trying desperately hard to stay awake and see Santa, only to fall asleep in an inopportune place and have people trip over me. Now, I begin decorating the day after Thanksgiving, if not before and shopping is usually done before December begins. Some people are disgusted with me for this, but I’ve discovered I enjoy the holiday season so much more when I’m not stressed out!
There’s only ONE drawback to Christmas and that is I’m allergic to Christmas trees. Whaaat? You say. Yep, weird allergy, check. Growing up, my weakened immune system turned the allergy into pneumonia on occasion. I remember one Christmas I even had to be carried to use the restroom. However, even on my deathbed, sick from pneumonia, that particular Christmas I got my first stereo record player (that’s vinyl to you millennials). That, and the silver tinsel sparkling from the tree, the traditional stories of Jesus’s birth, the magic glitter winking from the wings of the angel, sitting atop the tree and my Grandmother’s Swedish “noisy bread,” made everything worth it!
Funny that I should meet and marry a man who is not only allergic to pine too but also born on Christmas day. However, unlike me, he’s not its biggest fan. What with the combo gift and sharing his day with most every other child on the planet, not to mention the big man himself, it didn’t hold the same allure. I always felt bad for Jeff on his special day, so, we celebrated his birthday first and the festivities of Christmas began after. He would torture our kids by opening his presents very slowly and marveling at each one before continuing on. Afterward, the magic continued and the build-up for Santa’s yearly message and the scavenger hunt for his gifts ensued.
Now, because I’m allergic to pine, I’ve never been able to go up into the mountains and cut down a tree with hot cocoa and mittens. Unfortunately, we must make do with artificial trees, and they have come a long, long way. A couple of years ago, I had to buy a new one, as even duck tape wouldn’t hold the old one together. I thought I’d get a pre-lit tree and save myself some time. It was so fantastic, I just took it out, plopped it open, fluffed it out and plugged it in. Then brought it to life with ornaments.
This year I plugged it in and half the bulbs sparkled out in wonderment and glory and the other half remained cold and stubbornly unlit. So, I went through the painstaking process of checking each plugin, light, and fuse. Alas, to no avail.
“Okay,” I said with decision, “I’ll just take off the lights and put on some new strands.” Nope. Each individual light was clipped into the tree branches. There are hundreds if not thousands of clips. There was also some weird connector thing that had the lights branching out in three different directions, so you couldn’t simply take out the one bad section.
“Maybe I’ll just lay new lights over the old lights.” Wrong again, now it looks like I’ve put several layers of new makeup on top of several layers of old makeup and acne-prone skin. “Yeah, no… that looks like crap, too.”
Intensely frustrated, I decided to take a break and go to work on the computer a little. My dad has a new website and he has patiently waited for me to complete the photos and upload them. Of course, the computer informs me that the new Catalina update makes half my apps including Photoshop non-working.
My jolly Christmas demeanor dims.
Jeff, my hubby, walks in from working down at the shop, with all the best intentions and like so many other husbands, wants to solve the problem.
“Just check the lights,” he instructed me.
“Well, brilliant, why didn’t I think of that?” I snapped.
He checks the lights, plugins, and fuses anyway. I know all he wants to do is save the day and get out of the pit viper den ASAP. He turned resigned and looked at my sad face.
“We’ll fix it, Jen.”
“Easy for you to say,” I challenged childishly, “Nothing’s going right, and I’ve been working on this for hours, Jeff… HOURS!”
In fact, it had been four. Thanksgiving was coming. So was my mother-in-law for the weekend, and my grand-puppy, Lefty, who requires a lot of attention, and the house was destroyed with wrapping paper, Christmas decorations and glitter… everywhere!
“Okay, well, go work on the computer and let me see if I can’t figure it out.”
“My computer isn’t working either!” I complained and stomped off to do laundry instead.
My patient husband sighed deeply and quietly left to get new lights. When he came back I was angrily snipping off each and every one of the clips to release the lights from the branches (again there were billions of the suckers). This is when he’d typically set down the lights and quietly back away. Instead, he rolled up his sleeves and started zip tying lights onto the newly cleared branches. This is the guy that never helps me decorate for the holidays, like ever.
“Why zip ties?” I asked, watching him with curiosity.
“We’ll make our own pre-lit tree for next year.”
I smiled at him and bent to my own work. Eventually, I began playing Christmas carols and we sang them together all day long, as I took old lights off the tree and he put new ones on. We had a ball, talking about our favorite Christmas’s when we were young, traditions and our own kids growing up. When we were finished, the tree had more lights than before and positively glowed. Near tears, I looked at Jeff, kissed him and thanked him for the help.
“Half the fun of Christmas is your face during it,” he said.