Ahh, the Christmas Tree. The most widely recognized symbol of Christmas (aside from Santa, I guess). One of the first images that comes to mind when I think of a Christmas Tree is the scene from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when the squirrel jumps out of the tree and wreaks havoc on the entire Griswold house. Good times. But I digress.
The year was 1997. I was newly divorced and my daughter and I moved out of my mom's house (where we had been staying until we got back on our feet) and into our own place. We decided that we would have a nice fresh Christmas Tree that we would go pick out ourselves and decorate. It would be just ours. Our house was about a gajillion years old and had 12- or 14-foot ceilings (after 7 feet, it gets a little irrelevant since I'm only 5'2") ... which meant we needed a really big tree. Turns out, the taller the tree, the bigger around it usually is. I had a little car. You do the math.
After hiring a team of professional wrestlers and administering about 395 yards of twine, we finally got the tree secured. I drove home very carefully (read: slowly) because it still made me a little nervous. A lot of people must have thought I had the best tree in town because everyone was honking and hollering ...
An hour and a half after we got home, we finally got the tree off the car. So there it was ... lying in the driveway. Mostly because we couldn't figure out how to carry it ... the branches were too long for me to grab it by the trunk, and the darn thing was heavy! We ended up each grabbing one of the bottom branches and dragging through the front door. That was the easy part. Trying to get it upright AND in the stand at the same time?... whole 'nother issue.
After much exasperation and foul language, we got the tree upright and secure in the stand enough to release it. We were both covered in sap and pine needles, but once we saw it standing in the corner of the living room so majestic, we decided it was worth it. I poured some water in the stand and we got to work on the lights. Surprisingly, it went a lot smoother than I thought. All the lights lit up on the first try ... thank goodness, because we had just taken them out of the box! The hardest part was reaching the very top. We got all the ornaments on the tree, along with bead garlands and shiny bows. Then I got out the angel. She wore a beautiful flowing burgundy velvet gown and her wings were almost iridescent in the lights. She held a tiny candle and her halo lit up as well. We ooohed and aaaahed for a minute or two. Then I brought out the special ornament that I picked up as a surprise for my daughter. It resembled Wedgewood China and said "Mother and Daughter's first Christmas." I let her hang it on the tree in a place of prominence. It was a beautiful tree.
Of course, my cats kept drinking the water out of the stand, which left the tree thirsty, which made it shed its needles all over the living room. I was vacuuming needles until Easter. It was the last live Christmas tree we ever had.