Holiday of the Triffids


Some holiday traditions involve receiving red lipstick prints from virtual strangers claiming to share some of your genetic structure.

Some involve enjoying liberal applications of liquid from the "nog" family. (The wild nog is native to the remote regions of Norway, I believe.)

And some involve going Over the River and Through the Woods to relieve the Christmas Tree farm of one otherwise-happy conifer.

But until last year, none of these traditions involved said pine tree being invited inside, only to act like a rude house guest deciding to explore the medicine cabinet and underwear drawers.

I don't know what brought it on, exactly. Maybe it was the excitement of its sudden, traumatic liberation from the ground...

Maybe, as in b-horror flicks, a mysterious meteor had crash-landed in the Christmas tree field that year, giving the spruces all-new, alien ambition through its pulsing red glow.

Maybe the tree had been reading Lord of the Rings and thought the Ents were pretty cool.

Or, okay, maybe I just didn't have one stabilizing nut tight enough in the tree stand. Maybe that.

But the tree spent its first day at home happy enough. Straight and tall and wearing more gaudy baubles than a Wayne Newton "Danke Shoen-a-rama" birthday blow-out at the MGM Grand.

Yet soon, I began to get the sense something was... amiss.

Was the tree leaning?... Had it been that far over from the wall this morning?...

Or was this just some kind of Timbaspruceaphobia, the neurotic, baseless fear that your Christmas tree actually wants to play lead prop in a Monty Python Lumberjack skit?

It was the pine tree equivalent of, "Was that mole there before? Does it look bigger? Was it always that dark?"

And you just have no idea because you never really looked at it until now. So you pick at it until you make it really dark and red and irritated. Because that, of course, makes everything so much better.

So, I climbed under the tree, tightened things up in the stand, and convinced myself that all was well again.

By evening, there was no question-- the tree was leaning a good foot to the left and seemed to be trying to peer out the bay window into the neighbors' house. It was reporting back things like what they were having for dinner, and laughing at their pajamas.

"This is not the spirit of Christmas," I told it. "Work with me here."

Explaining the situation, I enlisted the help of my housemate to hold the thing in place while I tightened it back into the stand. By morning, it still looked pretty good. I was feeling hopeful.

But by evening, it was back to wandering around the living room and spying on the neighbors like some elderly lady with Alzheimer's-- forgetting where it was supposed to be and even why it was there.

It did tell me I was out of milk, my sock drawer needed some serious organization, and I should consider buying a different brand of toothpaste.

Then it zoned out watching squirrels frolic in the backyard.

"There is nothing to see there!" I insisted. I started to wonder if maybe it was just homesick, longing for the Great Outdoors once more.

So, again with the straightening. Again with me, climbing under the tree and tightening things up.

A day passed. Another day and...

I returned from work to see one of my vintage ornaments-- an unusual Shiny Brite handed down to me from my dad, and from his mom to him-- cracked like an egg on the middle of the living room floor.

The tree was leaning...

And this time, it looked unspeakably guilty.

"Okay-- that's it, fir-boy! We're having a come-to-Jesus meeting right now."

So with the kind of painful maneuvering 70s action heroes use with batches of nitroglycerine, I took that tree, vintage ornaments and all, and carefully... carefully... angled it toward the wall.

Perfect Christmas Tree-- ha! I said-- it was the Leaning Pine of Pisa, and this was apparently as good as it would ever get.

"You know your tree is leaning," my dad observed helpfully on Christmas Day. "Do you want me to help you straighten it?"

I explained, no. It was put in the corner for a reason, and it needed to think about what it had done.

And for the remainder of the holiday season, that is where it stayed...

Slumped in the corner of the room like some drunk uncle who went over-heavy on the nog, sleeping it off until January 2.

This Saturday was once again Over the River and to the Tree Farm time. And I admit, I approached the spruce selection with just a bit of trepidation.

I eyed them all up carefully, one by one, looking for anything... anything.... that might betray the signs of A Roamer.

And to my surprise, upon its arrival home, the tree went merrily in the stand. Straight, happy, just the right amount of room. It was easy....

Now I'm starting to think possibly too easy.

I say, Folks-- if I come home tonight and see one more vintage Shiny Brite has bitten the dust?

I am so gonna chop my tree down from the Martha Stewart Christmas collection next year. Or else keep a nice big batch of salt water on hand to douse it with.

I hear Triffids hate that.

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So, folks, what holiday traditions have you had go awry over the years? Is there anything you can almost count on to not work out quite right or to be a nuisance?

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29 comments:

Jaffer said...

Usually the tradition in India for the End of Ramadan is having milk boiled with vermicelli, dry fruit and lotsa sugar. It's had either cold or hot. (My 24hr Food Log)

It's not a lot of trouble when you are making it for a household of four and a few guests, but it happened the on the eve of Eid in my mother's house in India, that a cauldron of milk that was meant to be served to over 30 people next day turned sour due to the heat and moisture !

Yep ! It was talk of the neighbourhood the next morning !

Jenn Thorson said...

Jaffer- ARGH-- I bet your mother was NOT a happy woman... I hope she's been able to live it down since then. What did she end up doing instead?

Jaffer said...

By my "Mother's house In India" I meant my mom's ancesteral home where she grew up.
My Late Grand Mother, my mother's two brothers and their families and their childeren were still living there. At that time there were 14 people big and small living under one roof !
Today, only 5 live there now.

The women were collectively responsible for everything in the kitchen, I don't remember what happened to the sour milk but I do remember that they called their milk man for emergancy supply !

Jenn Thorson said...

Jaffer- Ah, good it wasn't then solely one person's issue to deal with!

I know we're not supposed to cry over spilled milk, but no one's mentioned whether it applies to sour milk, as well. :)

Marvel Goose said...

Be careful poaching trees from Martha's yard. Since she got out of the poky she's taken to sticking a shiv in all intruders.

Helpful Household Hints from Redneck Land: I always run some 30# test fishing line around the middle of the tree and the top. I tie them off to some finishing nails discretely nailed on the side of the window sill at about a 30 degree angle to the wall.

Oh, do this after you string the lights.

That tree is not going anywhere.

Jenn Thorson said...

Marvel- That is GOOD information.... and I find myself wishing a bit I'd thought of it or spoken to you about it LAST year!

I'm guessing your MacGyverism was a result of previous Christmas Tree Migratory Patterns? :)

Tiggy said...

I don't want to make you paranoid about yourt tree Jenn, but there's a new short movie called 'Treevenge' you may not want to watch...

Our biggest Christmas Day tradition was the gathering of the family around the frozen turkey with hairdriers. How many weeks do those things take to defrost??

Jenn Thorson said...

Tiggy- Oh dear- let me guess... the trees come after the humans with chainsaws?

Swell.

As for the blow-drying of the turkeys... Given how many days a simple roasting chicken can take to thaw (and the unspeakable cold of trying to remove the blasted giblets-- I almost got frostbite one from that) I imagine the answer is...

Almost until you need it for the NEXT Christmas. :)

unfinishedrambler said...

Get a fake tree. It's easier to deal with. You won't have it yearning to return home.

As for traditions gone awry, none really. It's usually just the whole thing: the usual Christmas dinner bedlam and when my sister and I were kids, we'd go with our parents as they drive to N.C. every year to visit relatives -- and inevitably get lost. It was a family tradition.

ReformingGeek said...

Wow! I was almost becoming one with your tree. It was obviously just trying to express itself!

Inevitably, something I bake or cook will have to be thrown out and it's usually the item with the most expensive ingredients!

Jenn Thorson said...

Unfinished Dude- Ah, but if I get a fake tree, then I don't have that nice fresh pine smell, plus the journey out into the beautiful snowy country and all the other Christmas goodies...

And don't tell me I can get a pine spray in a can, Mister. :)


ReformingGeek- Heh. Express itself it certainly did. It expressed itself all over my livingroom. :)

How does the expensive baking know to burn?

Da Old Man said...

We used to have a giant silver and gold tree, with red and green rotating lights shining on it.
The tree was stable (more than I can say for my family) however the stupid dogs used to run under it and many Shiny Brites met untimely deaths.

Jenn Thorson said...

Da Old Man- I bet it was beautiful, though! I love those tinsel trees. And I love the shapes of some of the Shiny Brites-- very "atomic age" looking.

Dogs have no decorating soul. :)

Drowsey Monkey said...

Only you would get a tree with that kinda 'tude. LOL

JD said...

do you play golf

if so you'll know the concept

it's all the fault of the equipment

never the woman (or man)

Jenn Thorson said...

Drowsey- It WAS kinda traumatic. :) Even my dad recounts last year with some laughter.

JD- Ah! Well, there ya go! I like your spirit.

ettarose said...

Jenn, I have a fake tree. The only thing I ever had go awry at Christmas was the green bean casserole had to be thrwon away because it was made with garlic flavored mushroom soup. Yuck! I do a friend who wanted to burn his real tree after Christmas and like the idiot he is, he pushed it top first into his fireplace thinking it would burn down a little at a time. WRONG! Burned his living room up!

Jenn Thorson said...

EttaRose- 1.) I LOVE green bean casserole, and thus will make a note about that garlic flavored soup 2.) Well, at least you knew what to get the guy for Christmas next year-- a SAW. :)

Chat Blanc said...

that's one scary tree! only thing worse would be having a squirrel living in it while in the house! :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Chat Blanc- Heh- Well, I'm on pretty good terms with squirrels. It's the rogue meandering, ornament tossing pines that get my goat.

~Static~ said...

Ever had a Christmas Tree burst into flames?

Chaotically Calm said...

ROFL..trees they have a mind of their own. For some reason the tree only stood straight when my dad put it up. Now he wasn't one for decorating but he did put up a sturdy fir. When we started, we meaning my siblings and I, the straight-ness was a thing of the past. In particular I remember one year being rescued by my brother as the tree with lights and bulbs and candy canes and star came tumbling toward me. Lucky for me he has the reflexes of a cat or it could have been lights out.

Jenn Thorson said...

Static- Heh, just making conversation or personal experience? :)

Faith- OH, I can totally SEE that happening. I think we gals just don't quite get the force going to slam the tree into the stand the way the fellows do, and that's where we go wrong. It would have been really hard to explain to your insurance company why you'd been crushed nearly to death by a tree indoors. Or electrocuted. Or both.

Glad you're still with us, Faith! :)

Daisy said...

I enjoyed reading your blog!

Mine would have to be the time I decided to put candy in the stockings early, forgetting that we actually use our fireplace. That was a BAD idea and I knew it as soon as I heard my husband say, "Do you smell burning chocolate?"....needless to say, we all got new stockings that year.

Babs (Beetle) said...

The only tradition to go wrong in our house is Mo and I! Not being as nimble as we once were, each year the decorations get lower. We'll end up decorating the floor soon ;O)

Melanie said...

The only tradition gone awry at my house was the year of the real tree. It was the first Crhistmas that my eldest was mobile, and oh was she mobile!!!! And I had a black lab puppy, and in an overabundance of Christmas spirit I bought a real tree.

Problems:
1) I'm allergic to pine, something I had forgotten until the tree had been giving off it's piney-ness in the house for days.
2) I had Christmas ornaments from my college days that looked like peppermint candy. Magnetic to a two year old!
3) I had made beautiful pheasant feather ornaments the previous year. Magnetic to a black lab.
4) the tree leaned a bit to start with.

As you can well imagine, the tree yelled timber at least twice before I wired it to a hook in the ceiling. By Christmas the only ornaments left on it were somewhere above the four foot mark.

Can it be that that child is 21 already????

Jenn Thorson said...

Daisy- I hear chocolate coated stockings are going to be really BIG in coming years, though. :)

Babs- That might start a whole new trend, who knows? Tiered decorating.

Melanie- Ah, and she survived the consumption of plastic candy, too! Resilient, that girl!

Jay said...

Hahaha! Triffid tree . quite alarming!

In our house it's usually just the traditional electric shock off the fairy lights! LOL!

~Static~ said...

@Jenn - A lil bit of both. Might I add that a fire extinguisher only works if it is filled full of fire extinguishing chemicals, and not silly string.