Tree Trials: Getting a Christmas Tree

We’re getting a Christmas tree this weekend.

This is one of my favorite holiday rituals. Every year, I am unable to leave the house without quoting The Old Man in Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story:

“If we don’t hurry, we’ll miss all the good trees!”

I’m not quite sure why I find this annual exercise exhilarating. It’s just one part of holiday decorating that isn’t that much more special than pulling out the stockings or the nutcrackers.

tree-onlyAnd now that I have children old enough to think all my opinions are moronic, picking out a Christmas tree also means an annual argument over which exact tree to get.

The first Christmas we had all three children together (Jill and I each have kids from previous marriages), we took a picture with them by the tree after we’d gotten it. Only The Boy is smiling. Both girls look grumpy, because they lost the argument on which tree to get.

And of course, getting it set up is an arduous adventure in itself. Trying to make sure it is actually standing straight in the stand takes at least half an hour. My mother taught me to make sure the wires from the lights don’t show, so I spend hours obsessing over how the lights are going on. The children always hang all the ornaments on the front, causing it to lean precariously in one direction due to excessive weight and me to scold them about spreading them around.

There was one year it fell over in the middle of the night.

Another year I came home to discover it knocked over by a cat, who thought the ornaments were his personal play toys.

But there’s just something about the tree that tells me really, truly Christmas is here. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and getting the tree confirms we are in full swing.

More than the shopping. More than all the Christmas songs.

So I’ve got to get going. If we don’t hurry, we’ll miss all the good trees.


John R. Phythyon, Jr. LOVES Christmas. Check out his new mini-memoir, “Naughty & Nice: My True-Life Adventure with Santa Claus.” It’s only 99 cents! Click here to get it.


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