Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Learning to Fake It

R.I.P.  O Christmas Tree
“So ... I’m just throwing the idea out there, but ….”

My husband looks at me, waiting for me to continue.  I wring my hands in imitation of the contortions my stomach is performing.

I shake my head, shrug.  “I was just wondering if maybe ….”

My husband nods in encouragement.

“Well ….”

“What?” he finally asks, although now he’s a little pale and he’s biting his cuticles.

“What do you think about a fake tree?” I blurt out.

He stops biting his cuticles, but his brow falls and his lower lip slides out just a little.

“What do you mean?” he asks.

“Well, I’m just thinking …  every year we get a tree …sometimes two - -“

“Only once,” he interrupts.  “We only got two trees once.”  And then he gets puppy eyes.  “And that was really nice.”

“But we get really big trees,” I say.  “They’ve got to be at least 10 or 15 years old.”

“They’re from tree farms, they’re not clearing out forests or anything,” he adds.

“Well, yeah, but …” I concede.  “Still, 15 years is a long time and if you figure in the water and then the waste - -“

“The city recycles them,” he says.  “They get all the trees and then make them into mulch for the parks or something.  The trees don’t wind up in the dump.”

“But it’s a live thing,” I say and his face drops.  I’ve hit the right note.  “It’s a live thing that we kill just because we want something that smells good in the house.”

His brows go back up and start to furrow as he thinks.

“It’s like we kill something to make a giant air freshener,” I say.  And then for the final note, “ … and it’s a fire hazard.”

“It’s not a fire hazard,” he argues.  “I keep it watered so it stays fresh all through New Year’s.”

Doh, I pushed too hard, I think.  “Well, they’re messy,” I say.

“You’re a Grinch,” he says, narrowing his eyes at me.  “You’re hating on Christmas again.”

“No,” I say to my own defense.  “I feel sorry for the trees.”

He groans and rolls his eyes at me.  “You eat vegetables.”

“But they don’t take 15 years to grow,” I say.  “And I’m eating them, not just looking at it and smelling it.” 

He sighs.

“And the trees are expensive,” I say, especially since we moved away from our bargain tree place in Southern California.  “And it’s inconvenient since we don’t have a truck.”

We had borrowed his brother’s truck or a family friend’s truck in the past.  He didn’t feel comfortable asking anyone up here.

I know my husband’s a reasonable man.

“O.k., we’ll look,” he says.  “But it can’t look fake.”

I know he’s thinking about my mom’s lop-sided wire bottle brush tree.

“And nothing funky,” he warns, knowing that it’s not beyond me to suggest a feather tree or a tinsel one.

“No,” I assure him.  “We’ll look at something realistic.”

“We’ll look,” he says not fully committing.

“Michael’s has one on sale,” I say.  “It’s nine feet tall and bushy.”

His eyes light up.  “Nine feet?”

“Yes, and they have some taller,” I say.

“Taller?” He grins.

When we get to Michael’s, I can tell he’s wary.  He eyeballs the various trees, surreptitiously touching the “needles,” peering beyond the ornaments to check out the trunks.

“They’ve got too much crap on these trees,” he huffs.  “You can’t really see the trees.”

“But aren’t we going to put a bunch of ornaments and stuff on the tree, too?” I say.  “We hardly see any branches as it is.”

He snorts disgruntledly.  I walk over to a tree with a mix of wire and plastic needles.

“This is the one I’m thinking of,” I say cautiously.

“It’s too short,” he says quickly.

I look at it towering over us.  “It’s nine feet,” I tell him.

“No, it’s not,” he says and points to the raiser beneath all the trees.  “It just looks that way.  They just want you to think it’s a tall tree.”

I hold up the tag for him to read.

“It’s nine feet,” I repeat.

I can tell he’s still skeptical. 

“Look at the cute pinecones on it,” I say and he rolls his eyes and wrinkles his nose.

“Nobody buys pinecones on a Christmas trees,” he says.

“On sale, this tree costs as much as a live tree and it’ll last for several Christmases,” I say.

It’s a losing battle, I think.  Another tree is going to bite the dust.

Then suddenly it comes to me.  His Christmas nemesis.

“It’s pre-lit,” I say quickly.


“The lights are already on it,” I say.

“How can they do that?” he asks looking at the tree closer.

“The tree comes apart in sections and each section has its own set of lights,” I explain.  “When you put the tree together, you plug in the lights.”

“Hm,” he grunts examining the interior of the tree.

Putting the tree on the lights was always an ordeal.

“No more hours spent untangling,” I say.  “No more cursing,  No more frustration.”  I can see this is a deciding factor.  “Just plug it in, and it’s good to go,” I say and then take a step back.  “And there are lots of lights on the tree as well.  Just the way you like it.”

“Um-hm,” he says.

I can see the wheels turning.

“You can even get the multi-colored lights if you want?” I offer.

So, that Christmas we unfolded the fake tree.  He actually went for the white lights.  I put every ornament we owned on it.  I made sure it was the best looking tree we ever had.  I even bought a wreath so he could smell real pine. 

“See?” I said victoriously.  “It’s perfect.”

My husband gave a small nod that wasn’t entirely convincing.

“And you didn’t have to struggle with the lights,” I reminded him.

“That’s true,” he said with a sigh of relief.

That Christmas, we also acquired the Wee One.  He was a mellow dog who came to us as a “foster dog” while he recovered from kennel cough and an eye infection.  He got along perfectly with the Uber Hund and Rockstar and was so cuddly that we couldn’t let him go.

“Where’s Wee One?” my husband asked as he was putting away the empty ornament boxes.

“I don’t know,” I said.  “I thought he was with you?”

Guess I got some 'splaining to do.
My husband glanced around.

“Wee One, NOOOOOO!” my husband cried out.

 I rushed over, expecting to see a puddle, a common misunderstanding for dogs experiencing their first indoor tree. The Wee One popped his head up from behind the tree and gave a low tail wag.

It was worse.  Much worse.

My husband held up the two pieces of chewed lighting cord.

As Lucy Ricardo would say, “Eeeeeeeeewwwwww.”


No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
The Cranky Cow by Kou K. Nelson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at