It will do.
That’s what I thought when I “put up” the Christmas tree this year — the smallest tree we’ve ever had.
For decades, we’ve decorated trees that stretched perilously close to the various ceilings we’ve owned — ceilings with heights beginning at just under 7 feet on up. Some of these trees began in a forest — or tree farm. Others began in some Chinese factory.
That was the case with the last tree we decorated up until this year. Close to 8 feet tall, it came in three sections. Assembly required. Like most artificial trees, it was pre-lit, though that seemed to be less and less true as the years rolled by.
Assembling, lighting, and decorating the thing was always a chore, but that’s not what led to its banishment this December. It was storage.
Because we own a very small garage — we actually use a laser light doodad in the ceiling to help us park the car without sideswiping the garbage can or rear-ending the washer and dryer — storage is at a premium.
Which means ye olde Christmas tree had to be pulled down from an overhead storage rack at the beginning of December, then hoisted back up into said rack when the season was over. This entailed backing our pickup truck into the garage and climbing into the truck bed in order to access the rack and maneuver a 100-pound-plus tree up or down.
Did I mention that we’re not getting any younger?
Ah, youth. Ah, memories. Float with me now back to our first Christmas together as 19-year-old newlyweds. Both of us came from homes where the Christmas tree was often less than stellar. My mom always seemed to pick a tree that could have been the understudy for “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Meanwhile, my husband spent his last Christmas as an unattached male in a home boasting an aluminum tree with pink lighting. Little wonder that for our first Christmas together, he hauled an 8-foot Scotch pine up a flight of stairs into our tiny apartment. The one with the 7-foot ceilings.
For years after, December meant a trip to the local Christmas tree lot, a trip punctuated with a rather spirited discussion as to whether the tree he wanted would work without cutting two feet off its trunk, or limiting actual human ingress and egress into the room where it would branch.
Eventually, a tree would be bought, hauled home, and decorated. Presents would be spread underneath, in hopes that the cat would not repeat that unfortunate Christmas past where his curiosity led to water being splashed from the tree stand onto the presents. Note: Wrapping paper does bleed.
When natural trees started inching toward 100 bucks, my husband won the argument in favor of an artificial tree. What it made up in economy it lacked in aroma. Boy, did I miss the smell of pine and resin.
Our latest “tree” offers neither. Just under 32 inches, it’s one of those fiber optic wonders whose green, red, and blue lights somewhat resemble the glow of a lighted cigarette. Bought as a whim more than a decade ago, the tree stayed stored and forgotten until I rediscovered it not long after Thanksgiving.
I plugged it in, and lo, it still worked. My husband, of course, was all for this very extreme downsizing. I draped a red cloth over a small table, set up the tree, stuck a few pine cones around it — at least something was natural — and stacked the presents beneath.
No, in no way does it resemble the glory of past Christmas trees. Nor will it resemble the mess and muscle needed to put it away. And for that reason alone — at least for this year — it will more than do.