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Wednesday, December 11, 2002

I spent a little more time this afternoon with a face full of pine needles than I really wanted to. Suzanne took me to my favorite Christmas tree farm (the Target garden department) and helped me pick out a healthy, almost symmetrical six-foot Douglas fir. They cut off the end and a few bottom branches and bagged it in netting, and we brought it home in her van.

That part was easy. The instructions give you half an hour from cutting to putting the tree in water, and I was shaving that time a little close. I'd hidden the stand in the back of the garage, where it had been gathering cobwebs for a year. So I had to find it first and then wipe all the crud off it before bringing it into the house.

The first mistake I made was not taking the net off before sticking the tree in the stand. The netting got caught up in the pins that hold the trunk in place. Not only could I not get the tree back out of the stand, I couldn't cut all the netting away because I was holding the tree up with one hand. So I leaned it against the nearest wall, which just happened to be the window, where the branches got caught up in the mini blinds.

After retrieving the scissors and doing the best I could with the tangle of netting, I untangled the tree from the blinds and spent a good half hour trying to make it stand up straight. Every time I got the pins in place tight enough so I could step away and look, it was listing to one side or the other.

So I'd have to kneel down on the rug, now covered with a blanket of needles, and reach for all four pins, trying to find the right combination. I couldn't tighten one without loosening another, and I couldn't really see what I was doing because (as I might have mentioned) I had to stick my face in the lower branches to reach that far around.

Finally I smacked myself on the forehead and woke up to the lunacy of trying to make an imperfect tree stand up straight. I told myself that on the next attempt, I'd leave it at whatever angle it chose for itself. If it had been really horrible, I suppose I would have kept trying until I was choking on needles. But it wasn't so bad, and it was well past the deadline to fill the stand with water. I wouldn't want a dead tree the first day, just because I couldn't get keep it upright.

That was an exhausting part of the day, but no worse than the work I was doing to try to get all the documents together for a bid we're turning in Friday. The Boss missed a few requirements, and my copy didn't get to me until today, so I'm left with very little time to try to get all those daffy ducks in a row. At least it won't be my fault if I can't do it. (Yeah, right.)

The important thing is that I have a tree in my house. It appears to be alive, and it's not going to get decorated until tomorrow at the earliest. If it's counting on that, it should probably think again. The weekend sounds more promising.

in my room

The tree stands straighter than the amaryllis, come to think of it. And the lamp.

On the other hand, yippee! I have my Christmas tree! Now I can start wrapping packages and sticking them underneath. It isn't until the tree is up that I can really grasp how close the holiday is. It's my third Christmas in this house, and the third tree I've ever had in my life. I didn't realize until it was up how much I depended on this new (to me) tradition.

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Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree
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