I admit it. I faked it. I’m shocked that I actually pulled it off. In celebration of my sweet success, I just sequestered myself in my bedroom and burst out in Gangnam Style song and dance!
Here’s the history, and what happened…
I have only the fondest of childhood memories of family sojourns to Porterville’s finest Christmas tree lots to pick out thee greenest, freshest, most symmetrically perfect (Dad was a fanatic about symmetry) Christmas tree that money could buy. And then bringing it home to Success Valley and making an all-day Barringer family event out of meticulously decorating the tree, adding strand by strand of silver tinsel, just-so (Mom was a fanatic about silver tinsel being just-so).
And then when I became a mom, I’d try to emulate those Christmas-in-Porterville days. Most of the time, I’d like to think, Chuck and I were successful in creating a Norman Rockwell-esque tree-decorating tradition for Cassidy and Julia. Well, until they got older…
Because as the four of us grew up and older, we each had our own separate and distinct vision of the what the perfect tree was. Mine had to be a Silver Tip, no gaps; Julia’s had to be tall enough; Cassidy’s had to be the bushy-branched kind; and Chuck’s had to be the cheapest on the lot. It became stressful.
Each year Chuck had a three-way wrestling match with himself, the tree and the stand. After two hours of hard labor, he would ultimately emerge victorious. And then he’d “do the lights,” where I would inevitably gripe there were never enough, and they certainly weren’t spaced evenly! And, oh yeah, “Will you please redo the angel topper? She’s all askew!”
Then came the fun part: The hanging of the ornaments! Cassidy, Julia and I would excitedly take over as Chuck watched on proudly. Such fun. Such beauty. Such memories.
As the girls got older and busier, and as we all became more resolute in our opinions, I suggested that maybe we consider buying an artificial, pre-lit one, citing the fact that some of them nowadays “really look real.” Plus, I explained, it would be easier for Dad, and we wouldn’t have to worry about the tree drying out and causing a fire hazard, and pine needles getting stuck in our carpet forevermore.
“Are you kidding me, Mom?!” “That is ridiculous! No way!”
The gall of me… What was I thinking?
About three Christmases ago, though, a drama unfolded in our home that will remain etched in our memories forever: Because of our (okay, mostly my) want/need/desire to show off all of our most magnificent ornaments on the living room side of the tree, unbeknownst to us all, it got a little lopsided…and unbalanced…and top heavy. As the Christmas music played, as we basked in the afterglow of newly-beautifully-adorned-Christmas-tree pride… it came crashing down into the center of the room. I honestly thought Al Qaeda had attacked Gold River.
I screamed, Mia yelped, Julia shrieked, Cassidy gasped, and Chuck hastily grabbed a cold Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. They all retreated to their respective rooms, leaving me, alone, to rehabilitate, reshape and redecorate our sad and mangled tree. Many an angel lost a wing or halo that night. A couple Santas lost an appendage or two. My favorite Mercury glass five-point star became a four-pointer. Our much-loved teddy bear ornament got decapitated. Some ornaments, sadly, could not be saved.
After two days of shock recovery, we tried to make light of our mishap. We shared our sad-but-kind-of-humorous-in-retrospect story with friends and neighbors. And I brought up, again, the possible merits of buying a fake tree.
“Mom, I swear if you do, I’ll never again come home for Christmas!” “I can’t believe you’d even think about it. They look sooooo cheap!”
“I bet you wouldn’t even notice if we got a fake one,” I said.
“You wanna bet? We absolutely would be able to tell!”
Forward to December 2012…
Last Saturday: Cassidy came home! The second thing she did after kissing on our
Mia dog was to go look at The Christmas Tree.
“What do ya think?” we queried.
“Oh, I like it a lot. It’s a little skinny, though. But it looks good!”
“Didn’t Dad do a great job putting on the lights?”
“Yeah! It’s really pretty.”
Yesterday: Julia came home! The third thing she did after hugging our Mia dog and checking out the kissing ball she sent was to go look at The Christmas Tree.
“Oh, Mama, I LOOOOOVE it!”
I said, “I think it’s one of the best ones we’ve ever gotten, don’t you?”
“Yesssss. It looks so fresh. It’s perfect!”
Well, Cackers and Juju, the joke is on you! This year’s tree is artificial. It’s fake. And you, my dears, couldn’t even tell. You’re being told the truth right this very second, on the World Wide Web. And I have a satiated, huge smile on my face right now.
(By the way, the whole neighborhood knows it’s a fake. They’ve all been whispering behind your backs, wondering if we got busted, if you’re angry, if you’ll never again come home for Christmas.)
Julia, Cassidy and this year’s (fake) Christmas tree in the background.
You’ve. been. punked.
And Dad and I couldn’t be happier.
Welcome home. It’s going to be a glorious Christmas!