When we married, The Oracle and I had very different ideas on Christmas trees. In his house, the tree didn't see the great indoors until Christmas Eve, and it came down January 6th. I thought this practice insane. How on earth can you decorate an entire tree and still have time to do all the other Christmas Eve stuff?
In my mother's house, the tree went up around my birthday (mid-December) and came down whenever I had time, since I was the one assigned tree duty. I'm ashamed to admit that "whenever I had time" sometimes stretched beyond Valentines Day. Hey, it was fake. Fire hazards and needles in the carpet were not issues.
Wanting to be a good wife and make my husband happy, I agreed to this Christmas Eve tree thing. The Oracle and I wrestle the tree into our apartment and he gets it into the stand. So far so good. One area of ChristmasTreedom that I happily surrendered was light stringing, and The Oracle generously obliged. He's a first-rate tree lighter; he never misses a spot. When I lived at home, my mother would squint at the tree and blur her vision and point and dictate where the dark spots were. Since it seemed like we never had enough strings of lights, this usually translated into a fair amount of tugging and rearranging while my mother squinted and critiqued my efforts. Blech.
On our first tree, The Oracle strung the lights and the garland and prepared for bed. Huh? Wait a minute. "What about the rest of the ornaments?" I asked.
"Ornaments? My parents only used lights and garland."
"Oh." I wanted to say, "Well, that explains how they managed to decorate a Christmas tree along with all the other Christmas Eve duties when he was small." I was a good girl and kept my mouth shut, and spent most of that night putting ornaments on the tree.
I actually managed to keep up this Christmas Eve tree thing for a couple years, and then I started whining about how long it took to do. At first The Oracle didn't understand my attachment to Christmas ornaments, but over fifteen years of accumulation has changed his mind a bit. Just about every ornament hanging on the tree means something to me, even the cheapie plastic ones I bought last year because my fragile favorites are remaining in the basement until my kids are less inclined to treat the tree like their personal toy rack.
One tree subject on which The Oracle and I always bicker is tree size. I am sorry to admit that when it comes to Christmas trees, size does matter to me. The bigger the better. I grew up with that seven-foot-tall monstrosity, so anything that doesn't block my view of someone standing on the other side is too small.
Our solution to this tree problem is taking turns on who picks each year. The trouble is that when it's The Oracle's turn, I can't keep my opinions to myself.
Too short. Too bushy. Too skinny Too Charlie Brown. Too ouchy. That poor man gets utterly disgusted with me. For nearly twelve years he succumbed to my whims. We'd bring home the tree, put it in the stand, and when we stand it up it scrapes the ceiling and leaves yet another greeinish-brown mark in the paint.
Then we had kids, and now our kids are old enough to pick the tree. The Oracle loves this, because I'd never criticize the too-something tree my kids picked, and The Oracle would never complain that the tree is still too big even though it scrapes the ceiling.