I talked my mom into getting a real Christmas tree the year I turned 16. We’d always had fake ones prior to that. I remember thinking real always seemed better. More Christmas-y. And it was. For the whole 2 hours I got to enjoy it. Because two hours after I wound the lights and tinsel round and round that monster, giant red welts started appearing on my arms and legs. And shortly thereafter I started having trouble breathing. We had to make two trips to the emergency room. The second time my breathing had gotten so bad I just sat down on the floor by the door after I couldn’t stand anymore and there were no chairs. And then they rushed me in the back. Because gasping for breath gets you waited on at the emergency room. Handy tip for life.
My husband likes real Christmas trees though. I’m pretty sure he couldn’t believe his luck when he discovered my allergy. I think he was busy telling me how much he likes icicles instead of tinsel garland. So I asked how you were supposed to get all those icicles off the tree when it’s time to put the tree away. Then he explains that you don’t put a real tree away so it’s not a problem. And so the issue became clear.
He also likes lots of ornaments. I don’t. Or rather, I don’t like lots of generic ornaments. He wants to buy large packages of shiny balls. I only want to hang ornaments from childhood with a parent’s handwriting on the bottom or new ones I buy each of us each year to commemorate things. I like the idea that every single ornament tells a story and that over the years our tree will fill up and tell the story of our life together. I don’t see any point in anything extraneous on there. Even the first year we had a big tree and there were only 20 ornaments. Even our tinsel, popcorn and angel on top are old. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My husband yields to my minimalist decorating ideas in exchange for creative control of the outdoor decorations. In yet another example of how that man picks up where I leave off, he actually likes decorating the outside of the house whereas I just view it as work. Specifically, that man loves Christmas lights. And tossing some nets of lights on the shrubs is insufficient. The trees and walls require lights too. And one day he went out for milk and returned with a gigantic pre-lit wreath to cover our front door. Last year the cord on the wreath wasn’t long enough to reach the waiting fire hazard we use to plug everything in. So the cord kept the screen door pulled open about 2 inches the entire month of December. But it was lovely from the curb. And isn't that what counts?
This year I’ve already been called outside in my pajamas in the middle of the night to discuss the lights with him. I believe it was last week when he was brainstorming forming a tree shape by draping an extra strand of lights from the light post in front of the house. His concern wasn’t so much, “Do you think that’s too much?” but more of, “Do you think I have enough lights to do it?” I seriously love that man. Someday, when we move to the new house I secretly shop for on Realtor.com while I’m at work, we’re going to attempt to produce one of those ultra crazy yard displays choreographed to music like in the Budweiser commercials. My brother doesn’t know it yet but he’s going to be working the boards. For that matter, he’ll probably be the project manager and chief engineer. I’m mostly going to be standing around drinking a Dr. Pepper and thinking up more work for them. Christmas decorations are fun when you're a team.