Tags: Staff Editorial
December 16, 2014 | 11:13 AMI am failure at Christmas.
I never learned how to wrap a gift. I can’t sing the carols on key.
And I make the Christmas tree search a trial, instead of a Currier and Ives moment.
As we’ve done in recent years, we opted for a store bought tree.
My girlfriend was giddy with enthusiasm. I was anxious.
The first tree we saw was perfect.
She thought it was perfect. I thought it was perfect.
So what could be bad about this?
You see, my girlfriend is a Christmas nut.
Everything about Christmas thrills her. There’s family of course. But she’s also a nut about the music, the decorations, the lights … and the Christmas tree search.
She wants to savor every moment. And stretch those moments out as long as she can.
When you find the perfect tree too quickly it destroys the fun.
So it was a mistake, five minutes after our arrival at the store, when I said: “We have this perfect tree, let’s buy it.”
I had spoken too soon.
“Fine,” she said, her eyes still seeking out other prospects, searching for the most perfect of all trees.
Having experienced several Christmases together, she knew that putting up the tree was not my specialty.
We had discussed this before our arrival. She would ask the man selling us the tree to put it in the stand himself, thus avoiding the frustration of watching me try to do it.
She explained to the nice young man that she had broken her arm a while ago so couldn’t do it herself. But that did little to explain my presence. As he secured the tree in the stand I imagined what was going through his mind.
“A real man would never let another man help him with a Christmas tree.”
I felt totally emasculated, but thankful.
I would not have to go through my annual Christmas embarrassment.
Imagined musings about my lost manhood were still echoing in my head as we drove up my girlfriend’s driveway.
As she went in the back door of the house to open up the front door, I did the manly thing.
I took the tree from the back of the truck and stood it on the sidewalk.
It had a decided tilt to it. It seems, I had partially dislodged the stand taking the tree from the truck.
I felt like Charlie Brown, not Paul Bunyan.
My girlfriend bit her lip, not wanting to give me a speech about how her brother or neighbor or, well, any man alive would not have made this mistake.
She didn’t have to. I was telling myself the same dirty little secret.
Once inside the house, we tried to get the tree to stand straight.
Over and over again, one of us held the tree while the other one, lying on the floor, turned the sturdy, hard-to-turn screws that were supposed to anchor that perfect tree into a standing position.
It was my turn under the tree when I heard a primal scream.
“IT’S FALLING,” she said. And then promptly left the room.
She came back a few moments later, having composed herself from this Christmas tree debacle that was taking place before her eyes.
That’s when we decided we’d better stop, give up for the night.
We would hate to see our relationship felled on Christmas, especially by a Christmas tree.
We propped that crooked tree in a corner with the couch pivoted just so against it, trapping it between the couch and the wall. It would be safe there.
“We’ll try again in the morning,” I said, trying to summon some enthusiasm. Thereafter, it was a silent night.
We stared at the TV screen without uttering a word.
When the morning broke, the crooked tree was still lodged in the corner, pivoted just so, trapped by a couch and the wall.
Waiting, hopefully, to be righted.
Proud and perfect, but with a story to tell.
Halverson is editor and general manager of the Regional News.