Fake Versus Real: Settling the Great Christmas Tree Debate

by on March 7th, 2015
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Exhausted from a long day of gorging on left-over turkey and watching football, Ken and I had just settled into bed. It had been a fun Thanksgiving weekend and we were ready to relax. Suddenly, the tranquility of the evening was disrupted by a thundering crash from our living room. Fearing a semi had just smashed through our front door, Ken and I raced downstairs.

There we encountered a most gruesome site and I realized that we were witness to a heinous crime. Douglas, a young and innocent fir tree who had come to spend the holidays with us, lay sprawled across the floor. His strings of blinking red and green lights, which previously adorned his trim figure, were strewn on the carpet. Broken ornaments littered the room. Douglas, I could see, had been viciously attacked. Two sets of tiny paw prints heading across the kitchen tile gave me a clue that the culprits may have been our cats – Trixie and Smokey.

In hindsight, I should have realized that dragging a fresh cut pine into our home was a bad idea. But in my mind I had created visions of the family establishing the kind of idyllic traditions that would later be played out in the Donny Osmond Christmas with the Family Holiday Special. As a result, we had spent Friday tramping about the woods in ankle deep snow trying to locate and cut the “perfect” tree. After we stalked it, chopped it and strapped it to the hood of our car, we carted it home and draped it with pretty glass baubles and twinkling lights. This, I now know, was a very bad idea.

The sweet smelling tree, I have come to understand, was nothing more than a huge pile of pine scented catnip – as well as a most excellent scratching post. Before it relocated to our home, I’m sure its branches housed thousands of robins and red birds. A squirrel and some mice certainly spent time playing in the limbs. And I would not be surprised if a couple of bunny families had built a village against its base. Think of it from the cats’ perspective, this tree was full of every aroma of every living thing that a cat would want to devour. The only thing that would have made it better would be if I had decorated it with catfish fins and halibut heads.

Trixie and Smokey, I know would not have tortured me in the same manner. I am certain they would never bring home an unusually large plant that reeked of chocolate cupcakes. And if they did, they would not have plunked it in a bucket of water, laced it with electricity, covered it with glass and naively believed that I would not attack it at the first opportunity. Trixie and Smokey, unlike me, are realists.

Over the next two hours Ken and I kept up our spirits as we righted the tree, restrung the lights and swept up the broken decorations. “At least no one was hurt.” I offered weakly before we collapsed into bed. Then, less than four hours later, like a scene out of Ground Hogs Day I found myself repeating the entire affair – this time, with considerably less humor. At six o’clock the next morning, as we picked up the tree for the third time in less than twelve hours, Ken turned to me and snarled “Merry F***ing Christmas.”

At this point I had two clear options to choose from. The first, I was fairly certain carried a penalty of twenty to life and would leave me a widow. Though I felt I would likely be acquitted by an all female jury, I decided not to risk it. So I went with Plan B which merely involved shooting eye daggers at Ken. After that I stripped poor Douglas to his birthday suit, yanked him to the curb and left him to the elements.

This year, our tree will be a sturdy and fragrance free model – the kind that spends eleven months in a box under the basement stairs and has never met a rabbit. And if we are lucky, it will remain devoid of cats until after we drink in the New Year.


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