Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas Past: Episode 2, aka Another Tree, Another Man

In the winter of 1996, Nick and I spent our first Christmas together in a shared domicile. We had become engaged a few months prior and promptly moved into the bottom floor of a two family flat in Dogtown. These flats are common in St. Louis, both two and four family varieties. They are large brick building with apartments one up/one down or two up/two down. Most are owned by individual landlords. Both the apartments and the landlords are rich in character. We were very happy in our new apartment and couldn't wait to decorate for Christmas.

In my previous apartment (a studio in a four-family flat), I'd always decorated a small table-top tree. We were excited about having a larger tree that actually stood on the floor. We trundled off to the nursery to pick one out. We found a lovely four foot tall fir - just tall enough to be on the floor, just small enough that I could actually close my trunk on top of the tree. I was practically hopping up and down by the time we had it wrapped in netting and safely in the trunk.

I could have cried when we got home and realized that the tree wouldn't fit in the stand that I had. The trunk was simply too large. Nick, ever my hero, quickly ran to the store to buy a new tree stand. He came home with the next biggest size. It looked huge but we set it up anyway. I prostrated myself in order to turn the screws while Nick lift the tree into the stand. "OK, drop it!" I told him.

"I did drop it. Tighten the screws."

"Hm. It's not really in the stand yet. It's not anywhere near the bottom." I stood up and held the tree so Nick could see for himself. The branches had been trimmed from the bottom 8" or so of the trunk, but the stand was a good 6" deeper. Nick stood back up, grabbed the tree, and started jamming it up and down in the stand like a piston. The floor was covered in needles, but the branches held firm. I laughed a little at his uncharacteristic fit of pique and received a dirty look for my trouble. He stood the tree against the wall, then stomped into the kitchen.

I heard a drawer slam shut, then Nick came back with a steak knife. I stupidly asked, "What are you going to do with that?" Nick didn't even bother to answer me. He just started to hack and saw at the branches. Five minutes later, he stood up again and unleashed a volley of curses at the still intact branches. Then he stomped into the hallway and slammed open the door of the linen closet.

This time, he came back with a hammer. This time, I refrained from asking stupid questions. He grabbed the tree and the knife and carried everything out onto the porch. I lit a cigarette (Don't harass me - I quit. Well, mostly.) and listened to the war outside. It sounded like Nick was cutting down an entire forest out there. Eventually, he brought the tree and tools back inside. Everything, including Nick, was covered in sap. He jammed the tree into the stand and spat out, "There. It's beautiful." And it was.


Sarah said...

Christy, that was a really good laugh! I'm fairly certain that Greg and I had a similar scene during our first Christmas together.

Katie Alender said...

Christy, these stories are too funny!

Mary Witzl said...

This happened to us just last year. One of the kids was sent out to find a little saw in the shed outside. It took her forever, then it was the wrong one. By the time the damn tree was finally in the stand, there was very little peace or goodwill about.

How glad I am that you have quit smoking, Christy! If you ever do give it up all the way, write to me and I will send you a celebratory gift of some sort -- honest.

Christy said...

Sarah - I can only imagine what tools Greg would have chosen! He's pretty creative.

Katie - You're aliiiiive!

Mary - Do I dare admit that I don't want to quit smoking all the way? I know it's awful, but I enjoy it. When I'm 75, I'm taking up smoking again.