All families have their own traditions when it comes to Christmas. For many, this involves going to pick out a Christmas tree. When most think of this event, happy thoughts come to mind. For my family, our Christmas tree experience is slightly different. My father has been campaigning for getting an artificial tree for the past 30 years. I don’t know where his hatred for real Christmas trees came from, but it is almost as strong as his hatred for large boxes of cereal. Each year around Christmas he mentions how he saw artificial trees on sale at some store, and each year we ignore him.
A couple of Sundays ago we dragged him to the local Christmas tree lot to get our tree. On the car ride over his anger and anxiety were already starting to show. As the song from the Grinch came on the radio I said, “Hey Dad, wasn’t this song written about you?” This did not lighten the mood.
I wish I had a blood pressure monitor to attach to him while we made our way through the trees. I’m sure his heart rate and blood pressure were both through the roof as he turned over each tag on the tree to reveal the price. “Whoa Dad is that a price tag or a phone number am I right?!” I said as I saw his body stiffen after seeing the price tag. This did not lighten the mood yet again.
Every year our picking out the Christmas tree tradition involves my Dad and I arguing over which tree to get. This is because he would prefer getting a tree that is the perfect size for a doll house and I would much rather have a tree more suited for the average sized person’s home. After much negotiation, we decided on a tree. I would have liked it a few feet taller, and my Dad would have liked it a few feet shorter (heck he would have preferred just snapping a branch of a tree and bringing that home) but we compromised because that is what families do. After the decision my mom snapped this beautifully awkward picture. Let’s analyze this, shall we?
Per usual Maggie was drunk yet again and couldn’t keep her eyes open, but she looks very happy. I look stunning as I hug the tree in my blue parka from Land’s End and my white hat from Old Navy. Sometimes it’s exhausting being so photogenic all the time. I have a smirk on my face because I have just won the Christmas tree battle yet again. And my Father… let’s zoom in a bit for this one.
Here is a picture of a man who has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He is not happy and he is not in the Christmas spirit at this moment. His wife and three of his old maid daughters, who STILL live at home and STILL rely on him to satisfy their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, have just forced him into buying an overpriced tree that he wants nothing to do with. If you squint you can actually see the money signs in his eyes. He can’t believe how much he is about to pay for a plant that will only be in the house for a few short weeks. I don’t know exactly what is going through his head but I believe at this moment he was thinking something along the lines of:
“Will my daughters ever move out of the house and leave my wife and me alone to make our own decisions on things like picking out a tree? Will I blow all my retirement money continuing to feed these fat pigs I call daughters? Should I post an ad on Craigslist offering a dowry to any man that takes them off my hands? Will Kathleen ever learn to shut her trap or will she continue to talk and talk for the rest of our time living together? My God, this is my nightmare.”
The picture was so terrible my Mom made us take another one so when we look back on it years from now we actually might think we were having a merry old time. Pretending to have fun is the most fun!!
Once we got the tree home my Dad continued to point out the flaws in the tree to make himself feel better.
Dad: You know girls, this tree has a lot of empty patches. Don’t look at me when we put it up and it looks sparse. I tried to tell you.
Kathleen: Yea, well don’t look in your wallet when you need money because you just spent it all on this tree.
Upon saying this my Mom gave me the single to “stop reminding Dad how much this tree cost”. Yet again my comment did not lighten the mood. I really need to learn to stop talking.
Although things were a little tense during our tree buying experience, once we were decorating the tree everyone got into the Christmas spirit. And like any job well done, we rewarded ourselves with cake. This isn’t just any cake though, this is a christmas tree shaped cake that we decorate with m&ms. We make this cake solely for the night we decorate our tree.
While we may not always agree on everything, cake is always there to bring us back together. Thank you, cake, for all that you do for us. And Merry Christmas everyone!