I bought an artificial tree at a garage sale; I wish I could have a real one, but I’m allergic. I paid ten dollars for it. I was so excited; finally, a tree taller than two feet, since I finally had a house to display it! Armed with boxes of decorations, I gleefully opened up the box, pulled out the tree, and set to assembling it. I realized then that I had overpaid.
Paint had peeled in strips off the base, leaving unsightly silver dents. The tree base did fit, although it took a good twenty minutes of pushing to get it to stay upright. As I took the branches out, needles poured onto the floor and piled around my feet, leaving bare branches. We thought about getting a new tree, but we can’t afford it, so up Ugly Tree went. I bit back bitter disappointment and imagined one of those nice news trees with the LED lights.
We did get all the branches in, needles dropping everywhere. I layered it with lights and tinsel, periodically summoning my husband away from the computer to help (“Get over here and help me, this is good old-fashioned family fun, damn it!”) We hung snowflakes and balls on it, and eventually got the star on top, even though it initially caused the top of the tree to fall off. We added family ornaments, and it was fun to tell M about their origins, as many were made by my grandmother. I told M the story of A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie’s little lonely tree. We finished it, turned on the lights and stood back to admire it. “It looks kinda beautiful,” M commented.
It did, in a tilted kind of way. My husband said, “Someday, we’ll look back on this and laugh. But actually i kind of like it.” I did too, once it was lit up, and it does look a lot better in the dark.
We put up M’s stocking over the fireplace, and hopefully I’ll finish Baby A’s in time.
We went out to decorate the front of the house. I hung the wreath on the door, and we hung lights in a nasty, cold wind. We tossed net lights on the boxwood and wrapped strings around the pillars. Eagerly, we plugged them in, only to see them flicker and go out. (I assume we need a new extension cord) We decided to cut our losses and go in for dinner.
Beneath Ugly Tree, I watched M pushing Baby A around in her bathtub, both of them shrieking with laughter. And suddenly Ugly Tree isn’t so ugly anymore.
A photo of Not-so-Ugly-Tree, now that it’s decorated. You just don’t want to get too close.