It seems every family that puts up a Christmas tree
has at least one tree nightmare story. We now have two.
The first was nearly 20 years ago. We had just moved into our house, and we were ready to find a tree large enough to fill up the 1930s-era bungalow with its soaring ceilings. The first tree stand clearly wouldn't hold the tree. The next one we bought held it -- for awhile (it eventually fell and sent lights and ornaments everywhere). A clerk in the hardware store then led us to a third stand -- a cast iron one that he called "divorce proof." The tree stood.
(Later that night the lights on the tree -- and half of the house -- blew out, but that's another story.)
We moved along fine for years, eventually trading that tree stand for a "spike" stand. There was an occasional tree that wasn't ramrod straight, but nothing we couldn't handle. We moved from a 1930s home to a 1920s home a few blocks away, where toddlers, a cat and a dog were the only source of Christmas tree issues.
Until this year.
On Saturday, we picked out a tree, brought it home, put it on the spike and stood it in the living room. We filled the large bucket with water and added lights. It's crooked, we said. It's too loose on the spike, we said. IT'S ABOUT TO FALL. We caught it in time.
We worked on it: Is that straight? No. How about now? No. Now? NO! It kept wobbling. The hole in the base of the tree was clearly too wide for the spike.
We just needed to figure out a way to anchor it. Fishing line tied to a cinder block hidden in the corner behind the tree? Nope. Wiring it to a nail in the plaster walls? Nope.
A new stand without a spike? Maybe.
I returned to the tree lot, ready to take out my five hours of holiday frustration on someone. But the owner was kind and sympathetic, and offered to exchange the tree for a new one. Still, the thought of removing the lights, tying the 9-foot tree back on the roof of the car and driving across town? No thanks.
She suggested the tree stands for sale at the lot, which use four bolts to hold the tree in place. We'd try that.
Back at home we first had to remove the unwieldy tree from the spike stand. So it caused a gallon of water to spill on the hardwood floor? We could clean that up. We were going to make this thing stand. (At this point, our kids were drifting out of the room, bracing for disaster.)
But the tree stood. It stood for abut 3 minutes. Then it didn't, falling on my husband who was flat on his stomach on the floor under the tree, where he had been tightening the bolts. I suppose my sons and I could have gotten the tree off of him sooner (if we weren't laughing so hard).
Now it's the next morning. The tree is up. It's decorated with family heirlooms such has hand-print ornaments, mementos from vacations, beads from my childhood tree and gifts from friends and family. We've declared it the prettiest tree ever (something we say every year, whether it's true or not).
Let's hope it stays vertical until New Year's.
Either way, we have another Christmas memory.
Have you found your perfect tree yet?
The South Carolina Christmas Tree Association
can guide you to tree farms all over the state, where you can cut your own tree or choose a pre-cut tree. It can even help you find the one closest to you by zip code. Look here
. The site also includes some good information about caring for your Christmas tree.
You can also find a large selection of trees at the S.C. State Farmers Market