Deck the Halls and Flip the Tree

IMG_0231I did it.  I bought a flippen’ Christmas tree. It’s a beautiful artificial Nobel Fir that does really flip. I figure I’ll have to decorate it for at least eight more seasons to make this an economically sound purchase. On the other hand, the tree is far less expensive than therapy or vacations in the sun during the dark winter season, which means I’ve now rationalized my purchase.  That was easy!

It is a beautiful tree, artificial or not.  Kimberley, who help me through a rather prolonged selection process, is absolutely correct — get the tree that speaks to you.  This one definitely does.

It’s a bit of a new concept to me, flipping the bottom two-thirds of a 7.5 foot, very full Nobel Fir Christmas tree from an upside down position over four locked wheels to a right side up tree.

Now, instead of arguing with myself over the best tree, cutting it down, getting it tied atop the roof and getting it in and upright in a watertight container, I just wheel in the tree and quite literally flip the tree.  Put on the top third of the tree, easy peasy, plug in the light cord into the socket and I’m practically ready for the holidays.

Well, not quite.  First the needles need to be fluffed. Who would have thought?  From what I can gather, the first fluff should take a couple hours; next year will be easier.  I figure a bit of eggnog or wassail and brandy should make the whole process a lot more painless.

In irony or ironies, the flippen’ tree came with two pairs of gloves which I found hysterical.  I know, there’s only one of me and I come with the requisite two hands, but even if Mr. Santa were around, and there have been a few over the course of my adult life, I can’t recall any of them that got much beyond the getting the tree into the stand stage of setup before disappearing to watch a football game, mow the lawn, clean the gutters or anything that has nothing at all to do with decorating the Christmas tree.

So, fluffing the tree with Mr. Santa?  Wishful thinking, I’m afraid, but a nice thought nonetheless.

My friend Terry, who is also the best cat sitter I know (she made me say that), stayed with BlackJack over the Thanksgiving holidays, fed him turkey and now the darn cat won’t touch cat food.  She also provided the comic relief after I returned home from the kids and began setting up the new Christmas tree. 

I rolled the tree out of the closet, down the hall and into the living room, locked the wheels, flipped the tree, fastened its safety belt to make sure it doesn’t flip back on its own, stuck on the top and plugged it it.  It was enormous — much larger than I expected, but whoo hoo, I did it all on my own!

Two hours later, with Terry and me still laughing at the absurdity of it all, the tree was fluffed and ready for decorating.  Honestly, the tree is so lifelike and beautiful, it could have stood without an ornament and have been a stunning Christmas centerpiece.

nah. Of course I decorated the flippen’ tree and, like all Christmas trees, it is perfect.



o Christmas Tree

ChristmasChristmas tree (1) trees have always been at the center of my Decembers.  The lights and ornaments chase away the dark and gloom and essentially get me through the month until the Winter Solstice, which conveniently falls on my youngest grandson’s birthday. Then I can breathe again, knowing that the days are getting longer and we’re on the downhill side of the darkest winter days. 

I love winter for about twenty minutes and then I long for spring.

Around fifteen years ago, give or take, it dawned on me that I could no longer handle a freshly cut, or even lot cut, Christmas tree.  It was too messy, too heavy, all the too’s that said, go forth and buy and artificial tree.  At the time, I remember looking at a 7 ft. tall Christmas tree at the exorbitant cost of $79 and debating its worth.  I bought it and hauled it home where it has stood proud and well decorated, gracing the Christmas holidays.

A Christmas or two ago, my two middle grandsons — just entering their teens and sprouting like weeds — stood silently in front of my tree. Then, they turned in unison and announced with all the wisdom of 13 year olds, Grandma, when we were young, your tree seemed enormous and so tall.  But now….”

With that, a wee bit of Christmas magic simply evaporated into the pine and cinnamon scented air.

In the midst of this last move, I took a  critical look at the tree.  It was old and tired — of course, so am I — but, it was a tree and it was time.  So, the tree and I parted ways without so much as a tear.

Now, as daylight savings time is no longer and the darkness of winter has closed in all too quickly, I am in search of a new Christmas tree.  But, 15 years older, I am well aware that I can no longer lug 80 lb trees around and set them up, even if they’re artificial and look like the real thing.

My old neighbor, who is now my new neighbor in one of those ironies of moving — except she’s still much younger in years — purchased an artificial tree last year that is very beautiful.  Armed with iphone photos of the box and label, I went in search of the tree.  It looked a whole lot better in her home than the Lowe’s forest and I quickly realized that it was still going to be a challenge to set up.

Thank goodness for Goggle — how did we function pre-goggle, internet and smart phones? — and there is an encyclopedia worth of information regarding artificial Christmas trees. I narrowed down my selection and, as luck would have it, there was an artificial tree farm in the bay area in addition to their online farm.  I decided to make the three hour trek down to the farm.

Who knew there were so many choices?  Vermont, Colorado, Stratford, Norway, Blue and Red Spruces; Balsam, Frasier, Douglas Firs; Pines, Redwoods — the choices were overwhelming.  It was akin to walking down a hundred cereal aisles of the local supermarket, except this time I couldn’t just zero in on the old fashion oatmeal.

I walked up and down the rows of trees, tall trees, short trees, narrow trees, wide trees, trees with led lights, warm lights, clear lights, multi-color lights and the newest tree, the tree that rolls in on wheels and then just flips into place. It really does flip. I flipped it. A flippen’ tree.

This was not your Charlie Brown Christmas tree lot.  Far too many choices, and, no, I still haven’t made up my mind.

A Cat, A Dog and A Christmas Tree

Over the years, the kids and grandkids have shown up to stay a few days, hauling in luggage, sporting gear, computers and whatever else they could fit into the car. That has also included their dogs.  As BlackJack is the master of the house, the dogs have given him wide berth.  They’re relatively smart dogs and most have known better than to tangle with claws and fangs. 

A long time past, though, daughter showed up for the Christmas holiday from college with an unexpected bundle of grey fluff in her purse.  It was Misha, the kitten that I would later inherit.

I had Fero, the K9 German Shepherd. Fero was not only perfectly behaved, he had been around cats in the kennel and had been friendly with most of them.  He expected to have the same relationship with Misha.

Misha was not so inclined to befriend a dog, especially a large dog.

We would walk into the living room, where both animals were hanging out, to find that Fero had picked up Misha in his mouth, gently gumming her so as not to hurt the kitten, walk her to where he planned to snooze, and then curl up with her to nap.

Misha’s look of terror quickly turned to fangs, claws and hissing as soon as Fero put her down.  Needless to say, Plan A did not work.

So, Fero moved to plan B; that is, wait for Misha to fall asleep and then curl up next to her, with his front legs wrapped around her.  That seemed to work for a short time until the kitten awoke.  Then, all hell would break lose once again.

It was shortly after Christmas, for which I did thank the Christmas Tree Goddess, when Misha awoke from her Fero-surrounded nap.  She had figured out the house sufficiently to know where hiding places were and, with as much of a hiss as a pint sized kitten could muster, Misha bolted out of Fero’s hug, across the room and up the Christmas tree.

Misha was too small to do much harm, but none of us had counted on Fero joining in the fun.  The fully decorated tree crashed to the carpet and the two animals took their chase into the back parts of the house.

Fast forward twenty some years and son, daughter-in-law, two grandsons and a young, very active, very friendly dog named Clementine came to spend this Christmas holiday. BlackJack enjoys the boys, but took issue with Clem and dove under my bed, where he spent most of the weekend complaining.

IMG_0327 (1)BlackJack ventured out to cuddle with oldest grandson when the others ventured out into the snow with Clem, but most of the time was spent keeping an overly friendly pup from trying to play with a grumpy old cat.

That detente seemed to be almost working, with BlackJack taking full adIMG_0322 (1)vantage of his situation by tucking himself into my bed at night and Clem curled up on her bed, exhausted from her day in the snow. Then, during the night after Christmas, about 3 or 4 AM, BlackJack decided to venture out and Clem thought she should join him, probably thinking they could have fun playing.

By the time I awoke to the noise and intervened, BlackJack was in full fur, hissing, and backing his way under the decorated Christmas tree, with Clem in full pursuit.  It was a vision of Christmas past, with the fully decorated fully decorated flippen Christmas tree and ornaments swaying back and forth as two animals faced off.  This time, however, the tree stayed upright, thanks again to the Christmas Tree Goddess.

It was amazing the two animals didn’t wake the entire household with all the hissing, clawing and whining, but everyone, except me, slept soundly as the two animals were successfully separated and tucked back into their respective beds.

Then, once again, peace settled over our home for a few more hours.