I am sure that during the holiday season, you all – like us here in Beverly Hills – probably watched the Christmas classic “Christmas Vacation”. I mean the season just isn’t complete without at least a dozen viewings. For us, the first time the DVD gets dusted off is Thanksgiving weekend. This year was no different.
Before I get into this years debacle, I should give a little history of the Beverly Hills Family Christmas Tree. When we relocated back to Michigan after the stint in Texas, we got our tree out the day after Thanksgiving. What we didn’t take into account was that our ceilings in Texas were a tad bit higher than our little 1940’s rental. By about 14 feet. As we set up the tree, there wasn’t room for the star, or the top 3 feet of the tree for that matter. So off we go to English Gardens to see what they had.
There has been a marriage long debate about real vs artificial. Our first tree was real back in 1999 and it was a beauty. Until the needles starting falling off. I was picking up needles until about June, so I thought NEVER AGAIN. Of course is was a $25 tree from lot next to the local YMCA that had been up for a month and a half. Fast forward a couple years to our first Christmas in Dallas. We got swept up by the beauty of the holiday season (read: 75 degrees and sunny) and decided to pick up another real tree. Over to the lot we go…and to our amazement people were loading up their trees in the backs of convertibles. Joy and peace and love was in the air. We wandered the lot…selected our tree and went to pay. With a little laugh I pointed out the sign that read “Live Trees Imported from Michigan”. HA. Our beautifully wondrous genuine Michigan tree set us back – are you sitting down? – $200. Yup. I didn’t add an extra zero. You are reading that right. You can bet your bottom dollar that this imported tree was probably cut down some time mid-August. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it barely made it through the entire holiday season. Lesson learned. Fake trees from here on out.
At English Gardens we selected a lovely prelit tree. I was all about making it easier on myself. Brought that little gem home and in three easy steps – PRESTO – instant lit tree. And the tree served us well for about 5 years. Two years ago, I pulled it out and plugged it in. And a strand was out. Off I rushed to English Gardens and got one of those clicker things to test the lights. Fixed the strand and all was well. Last year, half the tree was out. Back to English Gardens I go. (Do you see a pattern here?) Their current trees had a new bulb structure so I spent quite a bit of time digging through bins to find enough spares to fix my tree. And that I did – sorta. I tested and replaced EVERY single bulb on this tree. I think it’s something like a 450 light tree. Did it work? Well, most of it did. So I took matters into my own hands, after two days of fussing, and strung extra lights in. No one was the wiser.
Early on this year, I thought to myself…”Self, maybe I should look into getting a new tree this year.” So I took myself back to (you guessed it) English Gardens. If you have priced “realistic looking prelit trees” in recent years, you will understand why I am now on a low-dose aspirin regimen from the heart attack I suffered following extreme sticker shock. It turns out that our little old tree was going to make it ONE more year.
(On a side note after mentioning to Hubby that I thought maybe we needed a new tree, he told me that Avery said “Dad, we should get Mom a new tree this year because she really swore alot at the tree last year!” Leave it to my 7 year old to remember one of my NOT finer moments.)
This year, I drag the tree down from the attic in the garage. Rearrange all my living room furniture to accommodate my tree. Set up the stand. Assemble the tree. Connect all of the plugs. Hit the switch. NOTHING. Not a single fucking light worked on my tree. My patience, wearing thin but not yet gone, allowed me to disconnect and reconnect all of the plugs inside the tree. Flip the switch. NOTHING. So I did what any normal, sane, level-headed person would do. I shook that stupid tree. And shook and shook. Flipped the switch. Half a strand at bottom of the tree on one branch came to life. By this point, it is 10:00 at night. I am tired, frustrated, over wrought that I do not have a working, easy to assemble prelit tree.
I know how Clark felt. I really do. Hours and hours dedicated to lighting and perfecting the best damn holiday decorations of the year. And what happens? You are standing on your front lawn, with your family watching, with a drum roll and you get….nothing.
I threw on my coat, grabbed my purse and keys, and went directly to Target. Spent about as much on lights as it would have cost me to get a new tree. Came home, strung the lights, trying my best to cover those burned out ones permanently attached to the tree. Strung the beads, hung the ornaments, and lit the star. Perfect.
Then Avery walks up to the tree, points to one of the non-working lights and casually shouts out “Hey Mom, do you know you have a bulb out?”
“Why, yes, yes I do, Avery.”