Saturday, November 29, 2008

Oh, Christmas Tree...

We put up the Christmas tree today. Yes, it's artificial. After being sick each Christmas and New Year's for several years running (allergies), we switched to the fakeroo three years ago.

We found the artificial tree at a nearby specialty shop. It's fully lit with a lot of white lights and looks pretty nice - for not being real. We only paid about $130 in an after-holiday clearance. So, maybe after two seasons, the tree doesn't owe us anything. But, I figured it would last at least five years.

Maybe I should have seen the writing on the wall last season when a small section of lights went out - and never came back on. Still, I had faith it would light up on command when it got plugged in this year. Oh, I was so wrong.

We put the first section into the stand, and half of it didn't light. OK, that half can go in the back. Second section, only one little branch was without lighting. Swing it around so it, too, is in the back. Third section...totally dead. Out comes the voltometer thingy. We're checking fuses, checking outlets, checking plugs. Everything else works - just not this section of the tree. Fourth section - the top - goes on. It, too, is dead. Wait, it lives, but just a little. One tiny section comes alive. At this point, I was fighting the urge to throw the whole thing out the front window and race to the nearest store to buy a new one. Ron talked me down; we decided to make the best of it for now. Up I went into the attic to look for the box of lights from our real-tree days. Down I came with five strings of lights. Colored lights. But, our fakeroo has white lights. I didn't care. This was our tree. We were decorating it together. It was going to be what it was going to be, and we would love it.

I did have some caveats, though. Annalee suggested we string the lights like garlands. I thought I was being a big enough sport having to light a tree that had dead white lights all over it using colored lights. But, garland-like stringing just was over the top. I proceeded to explain to Annalee (since Ron has known for years) that I'm a tree-lighting freak. The lights have to be on very precisely and have to be tucked into the tree so as to display light without really showing all those wires. Annalee pressed on for garland stringing. And, Ron finally talked her into giving up. Mommy was going to be in charge of getting those lights on.

I managed to scratch up my hands almost as much on this fake tree as I used to on the real trees while stringing lights. It made me realize that after two years of not having to do that, I really prefer the pre-lit tree. When it lights, of course. There is something magical about setting up a tree, lights and all, in minutes. Saves a lot of skin, and it gives us more time for all the other decorating.

When I told my mom about the lighting fiasco - and the use of the colored lights, her response reminded me of why I'm a lighting freak. "Why didn't you call us? We could have run over with some white lights for you." Well, mom, I'm trying really hard to let go of that urge to be a perfectionist. I could have easily driven to a store to get white lights, too. But, why bother? We had perfectly good lights in the attic. And, we have a very unusual looking tree that we can all be proud of decorating. Besides, it makes for a good story when friends come over and comment on the lights (or maybe they'll be too polite to mention them).

One good thing to come of all this. I realized that I prefer the colored lights, like we used to have. They're not as overpowering as the white lights, so we can actually see the ornaments AND the lights, not just the lights. So, you know what I'll be shopping for come Dec. 26.

BTW, Annalee decided it was 'exhausing' decorating a tree. I guess she's gaining a finer appreciation for what I do. That's so nice.


Chinamama4 said...

Hooray! Someone who's as obsessive, er, I mean "enthusiastic" about Christmas tree lights as I am! It's been said that I use so many lights that, like the Great Wall, you can see my tree from space! Good for you for using what you had instead of coming unglued about it - I doubt I could have been so rational!
Your tree is gorgeous! Enjoy!!! :)

Mary Ann S. said...

I had to read your tree story to Jerry. He started to have flashbacks. That's what he went through last year with our prelit tree that also only lasted 2 years.
We ended up buying another tree without the lights (which was VERY hard to find!) and putting lights on it.
We are much happier with the low tech tree. It is much lighter and we can easily buy a new string of lights for it.
Thanks again for the fun story!