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Surviving Our Family Christmas Tree Weekend

web posted December 5, 2011

COLUMN – This past Saturday was the first in December and marked our annual family trip to pick out the perfect Christmas tree and get it decorated was as much fun as a weekend with the Griswold's. It started off well with a trip to Wright's Tree Farm in Ward. The weather was nice and the Wright family made the trip enjoyable and the hot chocolate was perfect.

We took the hayride to the area where the Carolina Sapphires were located and walked up to our first choice, a full, well shaped, 11 1/2 foot tree. However, with so many trees we did our due diligence and looked them all over and critiquing each as if the tree was going to be a fixture in our home for the next five years. We've spent less time picking out a living room suit.     

After almost two hours we finally made our choice, it was a glorious moment, and chose the very first tree we started out with. The workers cut it down, bagged it, and loaded it atop of the Tahoe and we headed home.

That pretty much sums up the good part of the weekend.

Now, there are a couple things I knew were going to happen before we even unloaded the tree. Our son-in-law is almost as big a Georgia fan as I am a Gamecock and the Bulldogs were playing in the SEC Championship against LSU at 4 pm. Needless to say, anything not done by kickoff was not going to take place until halftime or the game ends.

So we get our handy-dandy tree stand and fight with a much larger opponent, the tree, and try to get it in place and the bolts tightened. Of course, needing far more eyes than the ones under the tree turning the bolts, and the pair from my son-in-law trying to hold the tree in place, my wife and daughters disappear and the pre-game show is already on the TV. So we did our best and in walks the women who start fussing because the tree is crooked, it was in the wrong place, and I supposedly had a bad attitude.

Too bad, the game was on and the men took a break. Well, until the tree fell on my son-in-law. A quick fix was in store and there's nothing about a crooked Christmas tree that can't be fixed with a couple of cement blocks. That should hold it until half-time, and it did.

Halftime comes and with the Bulldogs in the lead, the still crooked tree is at least moved across the room to the spot we always place our tree. Of course, the "wrong spot" was the place my lovely bride wanted it placed this year. The game is back on so all work comes to a halt.

Once the thrashing is delivered to the Bulldogs, and with the aid of the ladies, we finally get the tree placed, straight and true, and fill the stand with water. My daughter, her husband, and the most adorable granddaughter ever, head home to set up their tree - a far more manageable seven foot cedar. About an hour later she sends my bride a text with it all decorated and a cute little comment about how easy it was and my bride hands me her cell phone.

Reminder to self, buy wife a new cell phone.

Time for the lights and decorations, which was held over for Sunday because you just can't ruin a weekend in just one day. So the million or so feet of tiny little bulbs are checked to make sure they work before the are put on the tree. As expected, most don't work and all the mystical words uttered while jiggling the lights were, of course, useless.

This calls for a trip into town by my bride to purchase more lights. I suggested LED's because they cost less to operate and last longer than a month. Having no luck finding LED's, my bride makes another change in the decorating of the Christmas tree and buys colored lights - she always has nothing but white in the past.

She arrives home with two packs of Christmas lights. Yes, two packs. I look at the packs, look at this gigantic tree, look at the lights, look back at the tree, and hand them to our son and walk out without saying a word. He puts the lights on the tree and my bride looks at the tree and makes the discovery of the century. "We need more lights."   

This time it is our son who is sent to purchase more lights. It is nightfall now and the lights are still not on the tree and come you-know-what or high water, the tree must be completed before we go to bed.

The only member of the family that gets to sit this wonderful part out is our youngest daughter who is studying for her exams at USC-Aiken starting tomorrow. I want to go back to college every fall semester from now on.

Finally all the lights are on the tree to the wife's satisfaction and it is time to decorate. First, out come the Santa heads. As I mentioned in a much earlier column, my wife collects beheaded jolly old St. Nicks. Some years I see her giving me a look that makes me think she wants mine up there before the decorating is over.
After the use of two ladders, countless trips up and down them, the tree was done. It was beautiful. Everything was just right and the twinkle of the lights gave a warm feeling that it was all worth it. Time to take a picture of our family Christmas tree.

Except this one spot of the tree needed "something". So I was handed an ornament and told where to place it. Just as I did, you just know it had to be me, it happened. The entire tree went dark. All those twinkling lights vanished. Panic set in. For the next few minutes my bride and I played the role of Margo and Todd from Christmas Vacation.

After testing each strand, our son found it was the first strand that was the problem. It was removed from the circuit, but left on the tree, and the rest lit back up and were rearranged.

Christmas was saved!
After we admired the tree we then went on with the rest of our night and I got to work writing this column. Then when I was almost finished I was summoned to the great room. The tree had fallen, decorations were everywhere, many broken, the lights were all tangled, and water was spilling out all over.

I could only clap at the sight. We shoved it back upright, cleaned up the water. And gave up for the night.

All I can think of is who thought up this tree thing to begin with?

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