The Wide Angle: Keep your blanket Linus, our tree is perfect the way it is

Published 7:01 am Sunday, December 11, 2016

Anybody who knows me well, or even just in passing know that I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas and the holiday season.

I feel it starts way too soon and yet am still a sucker for The Carpenters Christmas anything music because they were a favorite of my mom’s growing up. I can still remember the succession of mom’s playlist: Karen Carpenter singing through the favorites in that upbeat, 70s contemporary, pop sound of theirs followed by the Oak Ridge Boys and their countryfide Christmas favorites. “Christmas Merry,” is still a favorite of mine.

A tried and true aspect of Christmas though is the Christmas tree. Our family goes real tree when it comes to this iconic Christmas detail. A fake tree isn’t even part of the conversation, of which size, girth and an ascetically pleasing symmetry are really the only things we regard.

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On that front, I admit that I struggle from year to year in hitting all those marks. Often times I’ve hit two of the three and as Meat Loaf opines, “Two out of three, ain’t bad.”

More often than not I miss out in the size area. I remember one year, when I still lived in Huron, South Dakota. I went out — by myself — and fetched what might have been the best tree I had ever found.

However, I failed to see the warning signs, like wrestling this nearly seven-foot tree into my Pontiac Sunfire, which if you’re having problems picturing it, it’s a lot like fitting a sub sandwich in to a Thermos. But I did it.

I also, blissfully  ignored how my trunk barely closed enough to give even the minimal amount of security in getting it home.

And there was the three flights of grappling to get it up to the top floor and then the knock down, drag out fight of getting it to stand in the tree stand.

There were some fine cuss words invented that day I can assure you.

All of this labor, akin to the Labors of Hercules just to realize I had to cut about a half-foot off the top because the ceiling refused to have a hole cut in it.

And I sure as heck wasn’t taking it down again to cut from the bottom. I didn’t have another fight like that in me.

So fast forward to this week when me and Janeen went to Berg’s Nursary to pick out our tree.

I was prepared for no less than 10 minutes of looking and no more than 30 minutes.

Except I was wrong on both estimates.

We walked forward and my eye spied the first tree. I paused for a moment, cocked my head and thoughtfully offered, “huh.”

Initially, there was nothing wrong with it so I held it up for Janeen to look at it. “Huh,” I offered again. “This looks pretty good.”

“Yeah,” Janeen agreed, echoing my confusion.

It was exactly the right height. in fact so little trimming would be done later that we had really no boughs to do anything else with.

I turned it and the branches fell as if they were sculpted into position. They formed a pyramid of green that the pharaohs would have appreciated.

“What do you think?” I asked, half hoping she would see something I hadn’t. We had spent roughly 30 seconds looking at this tree. Certainly no more than a minute and we were prepared to say, “Yes, this is it.”

But, in the end without casting a look at even the closest tree we went with it. We paid for it, I wrangled it in the trunk of the Focus and then cruised home where in about 10 minutes time we had it up and watered.

This box is all that stands between our tree and wanton destruction ... seriously, so many pictures of my cat.

This box is all that stands between our tree and wanton destruction … seriously, so many pictures of my cat.

This process had never gone this easy and I was equal part worried the other shoe would drop and part feeling that we had somehow cheated Christmas. Like we hadn’t paid the proper tithe in homage of the struggles we all go through this holiday season, and yet, despite Buster’s best efforts to chew off the bottom branches, it still stands.

A testament to the will of humanity to get through Christmas as happy as possible.

Of course, Buster is alone currently with the tree … sooo, the month is still young. I can only hope that the box he’s taken a liking to keeps him occupied.

One last note

So listen, none of us can deny that Christmas can be a trying time of year. We all have to deal with a wide range of issues unique to ourselves.

But one thing we do have control of is wishing people the best during this month.

Already I’ve seen on social media the fight between saying “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Holidays.”

It’s a fight that drags faith and religion and our own personal feelings into it, but I’m going to be frank because these days, we don’t have room to beat around the bush. This argument is childish and pointless.

Understand and appreciate the message behindthe words. Whether somebody wishes you “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays,” the overarching feeling is that that person wants you to be happy.

Somebody cares enough to hope you have a good holiday season. If your faith is Christian than say “Merry Christmas.” If you are another faith or decide not to follow any faith than “Happy Holidays” it is.

We all have enough struggles and concerns on this planet to not include something so petty as to what is the proper way to wish somebody to be happy.

So on that note, “Merry Holidays” to you all.