Tuesday, December 15, 2009

O Christmas Tree

It's that time of year again. The time when Christians celebrate the birth of their Lord and Savior by putting a living pine tree in their homes and covering it with string lights, garland and an assortment of little doodads. We also nail stockings to a chimney and leave out cookies and milk for an old fat guy in a red suit who uses CIA technology to actually spy on little children. He visits only the good ones every Christmas Eve by way of nine reindeer who can somehow fly without wings or plane tickets. Oh, and this guy lives with his wife in the most desolate place on Earth - the North Pole - which, last I checked, has no cable TV, good restaurants or bowling alleys. Yet somehow he manages to keep his sanity in tact... or so it may seem. He does, after all, insist on hiring only tiny people to do all his labor (I'm surprised the UN has not gone after him yet) in an emission-spewing workshop which could be causing the polar ice cap meltdown (again, where are you, UN?). When you think about all the crazy stuff we associate with Christmas, suddenly the idea of a bunny delivering colorful chicken eggs at Easter time seems to make more sense. Still, I find myself embracing everything and loving every minute of it (when I'm not shopping).

On Saturday we bought our Christmas tree. It smells great, which is always a bonus in New York City, especially with all the dogs that walk past the Christmas tree stands. I love the scent of pine permeating through our apartment. Pine needles are everywhere, too. We've seen them on Kyle's bare feet, and this morning we plucked one from his hair. We like our tree a lot, which is a good thing because we certainly paid enough for it. Sure, out in the suburbs you get a beautiful tree for fifteen dollars, including the stand, rope for the car trip and several ornaments, but it's a different story in the city. The worker at the closest tree stand in our neighborhood (yes, we walk to our tree stands and actually carry the trees home) initially told us that the "perfect" tree for our apartment was one that cost $100. One hundred dollars! You could buy part of a forest in Montana for that kind of money. The tree man tried to convince us that it was an excellent tree that should last two whole months, enabling us to put our Valentine's Day gifts under it. As tempting as that was, the price was still too much, and we quickly turned down that tree. The worker then tried to show us another "beauty," but then refused to go below $70. We said "no thanks." Eventually we convinced him to find us a good tree in the back of the lot. It, too, was expensive, but cost less than the other trees, so we took it. I am guessing that trees in the city cost so much because of supply and demand. Pine trees are not natural here, and those selling them take advantage of that fact. What we do have in abundance here are "No Parking" signs and fire hydrants, and neither of those have quite the same effect when they are brought inside and decorated.

Our tree is supposed to last at least a month, though we are concerned we could be jeopardizing that. Like it is with most apartments, we had only one spot where we could put the tree, and unfortunately it's dangerously close to the radiator and a pole leading to the radiator for the apartment upstairs. On a cold day, these two emit enough heat combined to melt Santa's entire village. Yet we had no other option but to put the tree there and risk drying it out. Hopefully it will last at least until Christmas, or else it would be my biggest waste of money since I bought tickets to see the fourth Indiana Jones movie.

Kyle is a little confused by the whole process. He keeps pointing at the tree and tells us it's there, as if nature somehow found a way to sneak into our apartment without us knowing. It's really distracting him. Just today, I stood in the living room and held out my arms to him for a hug. He ran to me from the kitchen, but once he entered the living room, he suddenly jerked around and pointed at the tree, leaving me hanging. So far, though, he has tried to touch the tree only a few times, and we have had some success convincing him to stay away. As new parents, we always fear for the worst, and we have been concerned that he'd eat an ornament, yank the tree down, or just spread sap everywhere. We at first considered blocking the tree with the Pack 'n Play, since we don't have a fence, but that option was thrown out after we realized it would take up too much floor space. We did not like the thought of having to jump over it just to get to our couch.

So now the tree is up and decorated, with nothing blocking it. Now all it needs are presents. Those will arrive Christmas weekend, when that fat old guy finds his way here. Kyle's grandparents and his aunt and uncle will also be here that weekend, no doubt contributing to the loot.

Seven adults. One wild and crazy 18-month-old. Lots and lots of presents. All inside a city apartment. It will be a Merry Christmas indeed.

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