So for the first time in probably 10 years, the Strange household is proudly displaying a Christmas tree.
It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, but there are a few lights and baubles and whatnot.
Which is nice, considering it was quite the endeavor to get it cut and in the house.
It all began when the little lady and I moved into our pristine new home. In the backyard there were some bushes and things we wanted to cut down, including what looked like the most pitiful pine tree you’ve ever seen struggling for life alongside a HUGE pecan tree.
Looking over the yard shortly after moving in we began making plans.
“Cut that down.”
“Trim those back.”
“That would be a great place for a flower bed, but you’re going to need to cut down all those bushes and clear away all of those fallen trees.”
You get the picture.
So I’ve been sweatin’, wading through knee-high poison ivy, pulling weeds, cutting down bushes and what-have-you.
The yard is looking much better, although the pitiful pine was left standing in preparation for the holiday season.
And then came Saturday.
You must understand that since I’ve not had a reason to get all Christmas-y for the past decade or so, I don’t own any decorations.
Or a chain saw.
Or a Christmas tree stand.
Or one of those little throw-down things that cover up the Christmas tree stand.
Or anything else related to the holiday (like an extra extension cord), for that matter.
But who cares about preparation, right?
For some reason the little lady and I looked at the trunk of the pecan tree and at the scrawny little pine and without a word knew that Saturday was the day.
I grabbed an axe and pretended to be George Washington with the cherry tree.
A few hefty swings and that bad boy was DOWN!
And then I looked at it.
What appeared to be a small-ish, Charlie Brown tree was in fact a lot larger when cut. It was much bigger than it appeared and fluffed out nicely, let’s put it that way.
“How are we going to get this thing to stand up?” I asked, realizing immediately that I don’t own a tree stand.
Since there’s a limit to my wing-it mentality, I quickly dismissed the briefly-considered string, duct tape and push-pin idea.
At first I looked at a little Folger’s coffee container that was lying around for some reason or the other.
“Let’s fill that up with rocks and stick the tree in it,” I said. To which my girl replied that it would “never in a million years hold it up.”
Being stubborn, I didn’t believe her.
So I cleared all the dead leaves and spider webs out of our new tree and went to work.
With the trusty Folger’s container as the base and rocks from the yard in it, I let go of the tree.
“You’re going to have to have a bigger bucket,” the little lady said helpfully as she sat watching the comedy of errors.
After three more tries with the coffee container, I gave in and grudgingly admitted she was right.
So it’s truly a Charlie Brown Christmas at the Strange household.
Proudly displayed in our living room is a HUGE Christmas tree — stuck in a rock-and-water-filled five-gallon bucket that’s covered with a bathroom towel. It’s decorated sparsely with a few lights, a few baubles and some delicious candy canes that are held on with little slivers of packing tape, since we also don’t have any of those little hook thingys. (I’ve eaten about six already.)
There isn’t a present under it, but that doesn’t matter.
When I finally plugged it in and the few lights lit up, the little lady came over and smiled. She put one hand on the baby in her belly and the other on my sweaty, pine-needle-covered back.
And that’s when I knew it’s going to be the best Christmas ever.
Keith Strange is a staff reporter at The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at email@example.com or 719-1929.