We had an unusual Christmas tree experience this holiday season. We threw away my old fake tree after last year. It had seen many better days and we thought that by this Christmas our three year-old boys would enjoy going out to an actual tree farm and picking out a tree. So we went. The boys loved running around, squealing about all the trees, pointing out all the "sad Christmas stumps" from the trees that had already been cut down. My husband was completely ambivalent about tree choice. He told me, "Pick whatever you want because I don't care at all." Well, he didn't care at all until he saw Lumpy Tree. He was then convinced that this was the tree we needed more than anything at the tree farm- maybe more than anything in the world.
Lumpy Tree can be described in a number of ways, but even pictures and words don't do it justice. To give you a rough idea, it looked like:
- A hairball that a large pine tree puked out, that then grew a stump and stuck around
- Two trees that fell in love, started growing together as one and then got in a giant fight but couldn't quite separate again
- Twin trees, where one was always bigger and stronger and eventually ate the smaller one
- A tree that grew close to a nuclear facility
I mean, this thing was a pile. But my husband fell in love and soon the boys were also boisterously declaring their love of Lumpy Tree. It was the only tree they ever wanted to bring home. It was so beautiful and lumpy! Lumpy Tree was so excited to see our house! They couldn't believehow cute Lumpy Tree was!
I could not believe that I was being pressured to put this coniferous pile of green in my living room. But what was I supposed to do? Be a bratty suburban wife with a perfect triangle tree when my boys all wanted a less-than-desirable one?
So I gave the go-ahead and my husband sawed it down. The guys who run the farm laughed hysterically and asked if we were kidding when we came dragging the tree over toward our car. They said they knew no one would want that one and they weren't sure what they were going to do with it. "This is one happy tree tonight!" one of the guys said. Cute.
All the way home the boys were talking about how much they loved their new friend Lumpy Tree, and what would Lumpy Tree say about our house? Would he like it? It did feel kind of cool and generous to be taking a tree that no one else wanted and decorating it in our house. I’ll admit that.
The boys woke up the next morning super-stoked to decorate the tree. And I mean, bouncing-off-the-walls stoked. We did it and they were exuberant about it the entire time. This was a huge switch from the past seven or eight years, where I usually quietly and sentimentally decorated it by myself while listening to soft Christmas music late at night. Every ornament had its place.
Big difference this year. A couple ornaments were broken, and they were way unequally distributed. The boys were even more deeply in love with our beautiful Lumpy Tree after it was covered in lights and ornaments. For a couple weeks it looked like Christmas threw up in our living room. But the excitement had only just begun.
On Christmas morning we woke up to see one side of Lumpy covered in a spider web. I don’t mean, “Oh, look at the cute little spider web!” If there’s such a thing. No, I mean, “Who spread the fake Halloween web all over the tree?” Seriously. So foul. Our hardworking Lumpy Spider had spent all Christmas Eve building us a web, but we couldn’t find any words in it, so clearly it was not Charlotte the spider. Lumpy Tree had given us a gift. It was a Christmas miracle?
We weren’t home very long on Christmas day-- just long enough to open presents, and have some Skype dates with my family, and then we quickly headed out for a day with my husband's family. The spider wouldn’t leave the tree, right? He couldn’t bite us if we weren’t home…we’d take the tree out the next day. Just be cool, everyone. And please just let Lumpy Spider be a boy and not an expectant mother.
The next morning I started undecorating Lumpy, but my husband was sick and slept a lot of the morning. I could not haul that giant tree out by myself so I just waited. We were sitting at the dining room table when one of the boys pointed up at the light and said, “Look Mom, there are bugs on our ceiling.” Yes. There. Were. Hundreds of tiny spiders, each about the size of a pen tip, were on a web from the vent at one side of the ceiling to the light in the middle of the ceiling. I tried not to vomit as I vacuumed them up and emptied the vacuum out.
My husband woke up and took the tree out in segments and we cleaned up the needles. Then in a lampshade in the living room we found more of Lumpy’s gift—more tiny spider babies. Fortunately we seem to have gotten all the spiders out.
We definitely will never forget Lumpy Tree and Lumpy Spider. Damn that mutant tree. That mutant, loveable tree.
Visit Dawn's blog at www.dawnwhispersandshouts.blogspot.com