The story goes like this. There was a man who loved Christmas and he loved big, full, beautiful Christmas trees. He lived in the time when you didn’t see tree lots on every corner. No, this man had to go out into the woods, chop down a tree and bring it home to his family. One year he couldn’t find the right tree, so he cut down two and tied them together, giving him the beautiful tree he wanted.
I, too, love Christmas. I, too, love a big, beautiful Christmas tree. What I absolutely do not love is trying to get a big, beautiful tree to stand up straight.
My neighborhood has a wonderful tradition where we all put a live tree decorated with the big, old-fashioned colored bulbs in our front yards. This year almost 600 families got into the spirit. I love being a part of this Christmas magic, but my front yard is slanted, so getting a tree to stand up straight and remain standing up straight can be more maddening than magical. Most people use a stand or a stake. A few years ago I used both, but it wasn’t enough. I would stand the tree up just right. I would come home from work to find it tilting. This went on for days until I finally took a rock the size of a basketball and propped it against the stand. That did the trick. On Christmas Day my daughter noticed something written on the rock – a note from Santa who appreciated my hard work and effort.
This year I had some teenaged boys install my front yard tree. Turns out a sledge hammer, some muscle, and a $20 bill were all I needed.
I was feeling good about my 2019 Christmas-tree situation. The front yard tree was secure so I began my work inside. My daughter and I got the tree in the house and into the stand. It was heavy, but we did it. Trees always look smaller on the lot than they do in real life. That is a universal truth. We decorated our really big tree and declared it the prettiest one ever.
The “Tammy’s Tilting Tree” incident happened sometime in the night. Our prettiest tree ever fell over – not all the way to the floor – just hovering around the 60-degree-angle point. My tree stand had split. Three of the four screws held tight, thank goodness, preventing a complete crash. I grabbed some heavy, multi-colored twine that I use in craft club and ran a line from the tree to my plantation shutters. The magnets on the shutters were no match for this fat Frazier fir. I had to go to school so I left my shutters flung open and my tree tilting. I hoped those three screws would hold until I could get back home. They did.
That evening my daughter and I began the Christmas tree engineering project. We adjusted the tree back up to 90 degrees and added more lines of twine so all the pressure was not in one place. We went high and low on one shutter and high and low on another. I added another line in the middle just in case. Our plan worked. The shutters weren’t popping open, and that tree wasn’t going anywhere.
At night it didn’t look that bad, but in the light of day I knew I needed a Plan B. I sent my daughter to Target for fishing line. She found an empty spot where the fishing line would normally be stocked, but they were sold out. Turns out I’m not the only one who needed a little Christmas-tree cheat. Thanks to social media, a neighbor heard I was on the hunt for fishing line and asked me what pound test I needed. “The pound test needed to hold up a fat Frasier fir,” was my sassy reply.
My daughter and I replaced the twine with fishing line. Much better. Turns out six sets of fishing-line strings and six cup hooks screwed into the window trim were all it took. My Christmas tree wasn’t perfect, but it was up, and it wasn’t going anywhere, and we could close the shutters.
On Christmas morning, we had a note from The Big Guy taped to the fishing line. He complimented us on a job well done and praised our perseverance.
In the midst of all this Christmas-tree craziness, I felt a little like the man who tied two trees together because he couldn’t find one big enough. I wonder if my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will tell a story about a little woman who loved Christmas so much she refused to be beaten down by busted-up tree stand. I wonder if they will tell a story about a woman who loved real Christmas trees so much she refused to buy a tree in a box. I hope they will tell a story about a woman who persevered, and I hope they will know that perseverance always pays off, especially when putting up a Christmas tree. I have a note from Santa to prove it.