Saturday, December 13, 2003


I was moping around this evening, wishing for some holiday inspiration when it knocked on my door. Michael and Irma burst into the room and asked, "Do you have a saw? Our tree doesn't fit in the stand."

It's been many years since I've indulged in a cut tree but I happen to own the Excaliber of Christmas tree saws. For all the things I've lost along the way, I've carried this Stanley tool for over 20 years and it has been used almost solely on Christmas trees. Michael was suitably impressed, particularly in light of the fact he had just spent 20 minutes hacking away at the tree with a hammer and chisel.

The pesky branch was short work for my trusty saw and the smell of fresh pine jump-started my holiday spirit. We were ready to rock except that the stand, (they took it apart for reasons unknown), needed to be reassembled. It had a lot of parts.

After an earnest debate on the proper leg orientation we finally managed to figure out how to put it back together. The fatal flaw in the plan however, was that one leg was missing. We made an exhaustive search for almost 20 minutes. We looked everywhere possible and impossible. By the end I was looking in the bathtub abd the refrigerator. Finally, as we were about to reluctantly admit defeat, in a flash of inspiration I found it -- it was almost entirely embedded in the tree itself.

I triumphantly retreived it through plastic mesh clutching the branches shut and humbly accepted their acclaim. We toasted to my superior sleuthing skills. We probably should have waited until after we got the tree into it.

The parts problem now being solved, we moved on to the assembly. This looked deceptively simple but also turned out to be no small task. But after much consultation we put it all together -- the wrong way. Not to be deterred we started over and managed finally, to come up with a workable unit. Flush with this success we decided to go all the way and try to stand up the tree. It was heavier than it looked.

We managed to wrestle it into the stand without mishap but then came the critical moment. Who decides if the tree is straight? This became an issue of some contention as patience waned and tempers ran short.

I'm struggling to hold it up in a straight line, Michael was splayed underneath, eating pine needles and cursing, trying to turn the screws and announcing at frequent intercals that they were stripped and Irma is standing across the room shouting that we were doing it wrong and the tree was crooked anyway. Thus ensued a long discussion on whether the tree was naturally crooked and if it would even be noticeable once the branches fell open.

At this point we had spent about two hours on the project. We finally compromised, readjusted the tree a little and sat back to admire the fruits of our labors. Sharing a little holiday cheer and a few laughs over our collective ineptitude, we agreed that the smell of a fresh cut tree made it feel more like Christmas. I went home humming an old carol....

Wishing all of you a happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous new year.


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