Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cursing Up The Christmas Tree

(Disclaimer: no trees were hurt in the making of this story!)
CURSING UP THE CHRISTMAS TREE: Part One, by Carson Buckingham

I don’t know about all of you, but living in my house is a real experience—especially at Christmas time.
To start with, I lapse into temporary insanity, which exhibits itself in the Yuletide delusion that I suddenly have the culinary ability that I so obviously lack during the rest of the year.
Oh, yes.  It’s time to bake the cookies.
It would be sweet if it wasn’t so pathetic.  Every year, I bake hundreds of cookies, which I tie up in red or green cellophane with a beautiful bow.  These I then present to friends and relatives…who, if they are smart, eat the red or green cellophane and throw away the cookies.
And I don’t bake just one kind of cookie, either.  My usual Christmas assortment includes:

·         Peanut Butter Stuffed Dates:  My adventure in taxidermy

·         Sugar Plums:  Which may not dance in your head, but certainly do a production number in your colon

·         Russian Tea Cakes:  Which resemble and taste like eastern European ammunition

·         Caramel Bars:  The operative word here is “bars”

·         Chocolate Bark:  With real bark!

·         Divinity:  A cruel joke

·         Meringues:  Who needs throwing knives?

·         Black and White Brownies:  My contribution to the complete destruction of interracial harmony within the fairy realm

·         Hermits:  What you will become whenever you hear that I’ve been baking cookies again.

The friends I have left refer to this farrago as “The Annual Waste of Ingredients.”

Naturally, my husband, Stij, plays a big part in the festivities of the season, as well.  He goes with me to get the Christmas tree.  Our children, Leo and Alexandrea, are left at home, suffering from some exotic, as yet unnamed malady resulting from careless cookie consumption.

The first step, upon our arrival at the tree lot, is for Stij to say—in a soft voice that will cause cattle to stampede two towns away—“Criminey!  These things are EXPENSIVE!  Let’s go over to K-Mart and get a fake one!”

This behavior ceases after I threaten to shove a Tea Cake down his throat.

The lot we go to every year always has a great selection—easily a hundred trees or more, much to Stij’s chagrin.  I have the patience of the Venus Di Milo, and will carefully inspect every single tree before making a choice.

Stij, you understand, has no part in this decision whatsoever.  He’s just along to shut up, pay for the tree, and tie it to the roof of the car.  Until he is needed, he wanders off to the sales shack to have a drink with the other men who are waiting for their wives to pick out trees.   Oh, and that’s another thing—it’s an unwritten law that all men must BYOB to the Christmas tree lot.  And they’re happy to do it, believe me.

OK.  Three hours later, the tree is on the roof of the car and everybody’s happy—I because I got the “perfect” tree; and Stij because he got Alvin drunk enough on the good scotch he bought to knock an extra five dollars off the price.  The simple economics of the fact that he had to pay forty dollars for the scotch that bought him a five dollar discount are lost on him.

By the time we get home, our children, being the resilient little creatures that they are, have recovered from the cookie poisoning that would have killed anyone else and are ready to help put up the tree.

The first argument is where to put it.  Leo always thinks it would be best to put it in his room.

“You can’t have it in your room, Leo,” Alexandrea exclaims.  “There’s no chimney!”

“That’s OK,” Leo assures her.  “There’s one in the living room.  He can just come down in there and walk into my room.  He needs to lose a little weight, anyhow.”

It’s at this point that Stij has had enough and gives them THE LOOK.  “It’s going in the living room,” he intones in a voice from beyond the grave.

They didn’t ever argue with him.  Legend had it that after THE LOOK came THE REMINGTON.  They’d never pushed their luck past THE LOOK.

Location decided, I fetch the tree stand…the bane of male existence everywhere.  That metal nightmare with the three trunk screws has been known to fill lunatic asylums the world over during the month of December.

“It won’t matter which side shows,” I chirp.  “The whole tree is perfect, just perfect.”

After twenty minutes of wrestling, Stij gets it screwed into the stand and steps back.

The tree is listing about 45 degrees to starboard.

“*($%*()(&%&$^*&(*@#@#@#!” he mutters. Crawling back under, unscrewing it, realigning the trunk, then rescrewing it back in place again.

He crawls out and steps back.

45 degrees to port now.

After two hours of this, he makes a discovery.  About half way up the tree, the trunk is crooked.  And not just mildly, either.  The S-bend of the plumbing under the sink is straighter.

Stij slowly emerges from beneath the lower branches.  His eyes are red-rimmed.  His hair has gone completely white.  His teeth are now elongated and pointed.  He looks like Dracula’s Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.

One look at this apparition and self-preservation kicks in.  We all run and hide.

When the cursing and the sounds of heavy equipment die down, and after first waving a hat on the end of a stick out the door, we venture forth to survey the wreckage.

There is a chain saw smoking in the corner and greenery and wood ships festooned about the room.  The tree stand has been reduced to a mass of twisted metal, after which it was summarily lobbed into the cat’s litter box.

The tree is now two and a half feet tall and nailed directly to the floor.

I gaze upon it lovingly and smile.  “You see?  I told you it was perfect.”


Carson Buckingham--Author of HOME

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Thank You Carson!--for this wonderfully tragical comedy or comical tragedy of a Christmas story!  


wbentrim said...

Alas, at one point we have all been there. Merry, Merry!


Cheryl said...

I absolutely love this little piece of reality...even if I'm reading it WAY past Christmas. I can't wait to get my new Kindle so I can order some of her books.