Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas tree disaster

This weekend I decided it was time to put up my Christmas tree. I had already done the hard part, shopping for it on a raw blustery day several weekends earlier, going out to a nearby tree lot and standing around freezing for awhile in the midst of bundled firs and bound pines, hefting the trees, feeling their needles, getting pitch on my fingers. After pretending to pick out a likely candidate I went home empty-handed, feeling smug that I had just saved $80, again.

(Right: Christmas time in Falls Church. The bicycle bridge over Route 7 on the W&OD.) You see, I bought a discounted artificial tree after the 2001 holiday season for $130. But I was lazy and although I had done my yearly "shopping" for a tree, I didn't haul it out of my basement that weekend to set it up. By this weekend I was out of time, so on Saturday night I brought its three component containers upstairs. To my horror I discovered that the large plastic bin holding the middle branches and the long strands of wooden cranberries and miniature candy canes in it had two inches of water inside, from when my basement had flooded months earlier. The bottom-lying branches were orange with rust and the strings of beads were mossy with mold. I took the rank mess outside and dumped it on my porch, where it stayed overnight.

In the daylight I attacked the problem. I laboriously washed the mold off of each wooden bead on the two strings of garland. I had purchased these strands at a post-Christmas sale several years back for 50 cents each and I had grown attached to these earth-friendly tree trimmers. I didn't care that the candy-apple red berries were now nutmeg-brown. Seasoning, I thought, they were merely antiquing.

Next I took a brush to the tree branches and scrubbed the rust off the afflicted limbs as best I could. Then I set the dozen rusty spokes of fake evergreen branches out in the driveway to dry, each corrupted wire strand now covered with tiny brown shoots that looked like dried-out pine needles do when it becomes time to drag a real Christmas tree out to the curb after New Year's Day. Wizening, I thought, the tree was simply changing with age.

It's up now, and I have been running a space age heater near it to further dry it out. It came out pretty well. (Left: My Christmas tree set up last year. Some of the bright green pine needles and strung red berries are now brown with "age." Photo credit S.)


Kelly said...

Wow... that is a LOT of work for a fake tree!

And I am appalled that you are just now putting up a tree. I lectured my boyfriend last night for the same thing. To me, it's just not worth it unless it's up right after Thanksgiving.

Irene said...

I'm glad to see you did get the tree up. A lesser person would have given up! Nice job!

I love Christmas trees. It might sound silly, but I love them because no two are alike!

Merry Christmas!

Sunshine said...

You are not late: some traditions decree that the tree be put up on Christmas Eve.
Anyway.. you and Charlie Brown... with brave valiant Christmas trees.. May the light of your tree and your Christmas somehow shed a light on ALL of those you love.

Hope this is OK: pastors like to say "Peace be with you!" and hope, too.

Petraruns said...

That IS a lot of work. No wonder you needed a run afterwards... Put up a photo of your wizened, antique tree?

Susan said...

Hey - free antiquing! Merry Christmas.

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Wow. I probably would have hauled it to the curb and started over! Good for you for perservering with the tree drama

Rainmaker said...

There comes a time...when a new tree is in order. Even if it is only relatively new. This...this would have been that time.

David said...

Scrooge would be proud of you and fitful too that you put so much into the recovery effort.
Happy New Year Peter.