Children and Christmas trees are a chaotic mixture.
| O CHRISTMAS TREE There are so many Christmas traditions. One of the most beloved, and labour-intensive, is the Christmas tree. I'm referring to a real genuine evergreen with a fragrant smell, prickly needles, rough bark, and sticky pitch. Finding the perfect specimen often involves an excursion to the tree's natural habitat--- the great outdoors. This requires intense preparation beforehand. Furniture must be re-arranged for the imminent arrival. A pathway must be cleared. Snow shovelled. Shoes and boots kicked aside. Boxes of ornaments scrounged, dusted off and toted. Pets found, secured, escaped--and found again. Children rounded up. Children cajoled. Children dressed. Children distracted. Children herded, hurried, and hustled. At the Christmas tree-procurement site , there will be cross-country hiking; some might say slogging . There will most likely be mud and often snow; in either case, boots will be lost. Chances are good that the same ground will be covered over and over as each child discovers a new favourite "must have" specimen. One will beg for the biggest. One will croon over the cute baby trees. One will probably forget all about the mission, opting to dance around the trees, and hide amongst the trees, and plonk down in the snow, and strip off their winter gear, and disappear, and be found with another expedition. All will want to carry, drag, wave, sword-fight and cut with the tree saw;except Dad. Ultimately, Dad will choose just the right tree--- a tree that's been chopped down, carried to the entrance gate next to the road, and trussed up; the pre-packaged convenient sort. By this point, any tree is a keeper. Ideally, a pick-up truck will ferry the prize home, but if not, most trees travel comfortably strapped to the roof of a car. The children may fuss and worry because they made room for their tree next to themselves. Wrestling the tree through a door and into the house is possible, but only if the kids go in before the tree or after it. Establish who will push and who will pull. Remind them that you mean the tree. Once near its place of honour, the evergreen must be coaxed into standing upright. It will want to slouch or slide limply to the floor. An extra pair of hands would be useful at this point, but not little hands. They don't follow instructions very well. They can't stay still. They get tired. They get itchy, and they want to see what Dad is doing. Dad is busy. He's anchoring the tree in some kind of a stand---- a pot or a pail. This may take several attempts. He's now noticing the gap of missing branches and turning the tree. He's hollering for string, tacks, pins; the reinforcements that could hold the tree up. He wrangles. He ropes. He re-positions. Almost finished with his contribution, Dad only has to hang the lights, ( without knocking down his engineering feat ). With any luck, someone has already thought to plug them in to see if they actually glow, and, most importantly, no one has stepped on them. Now the decoration begins. There may be tears. Squabbling is possible. Maybe there will be giggling. Some ornaments are considered everyone's. Perhaps someone may hang more than their fair share. Unfortunately, baubles are juggled, or dropped, or pulled apart in a tug of war. For some reason, only a few branches, within the kids' reach, will ever bear "pretties". The kids seem to believe that more is better. Most of the tree will be unadorned, but their three arms will be merry, and not light. The tree's strength and balance will be tested. Next is the clean-up, but this can become an on-going process. Probably the melted snow has already been absorbed by many different socks and lapped up by the pets. The evergreen needles will quickly infiltrate the entire house in search of last year's needles. Everyday, they will be found in beds, boots, and baths. A Christmas tree really inspires special memories. The family that decorates together, celebrates together, grows together, laughs together,...... and yes, they manage to needle each other, year after year.