It was the sixth of December and things were looking bleak for all things Johnson-Christmas. There was no advent calendar. There was no tree. Nor any wreath, stockings or lights.
What happens when you combine both parents going out of town on back-to-back trips and a lot of work obligations and deadlines? Nothing, that’s what.
‘What do you want to do about a tree,’ I checked with Clark Griswold when we happened to be in the same room at the same time. We reviewed our mental calendars to see if an epic tree-cutting journey was in the cards. No, not unless we wanted to get a tree on the 16th between 12 and 4pm.
‘We could just buy one,’ my better half suggested-relented. Yes! So last Wednesday night or was it Thursday, the professor drove to the Superstore – alone – and picked up a tree. Ta-da!
A full-looking, non-spindly tree (with many dropping needles) which sat in our living room, bare, for four days.
We blinked and it was Sunday. Afternoon. We were eating lunch – at 3:30pm – and the Hen had heard the song ‘O come, o come Emmanuel’. ‘What does rejoice mean?’ We attempted to explain and the professor did his best to carpe the moment. ‘Tree-joice! It’s time to decorate the tree.’
And then everyone disappeared.
‘What happened to tree-joice?’ I asked the man stringing lights, solo, around our needle-y tree. ‘I don’t know, everybody disappeared,’ he sighed. ‘Well, it’s really more your thing,’ I offered-reminded. ‘I know,’ he grumbled, ‘this family sucks.’
When we were first married, I thought we were supposed to have a beautifully decorated tree, meaning: one that didn’t include the professor’s collection of handmade and quirky ornaments. This caused hurt feelings, even when I graciously allowed him to place ‘his’ ornaments at the back of the tree, by the wall, where no one could see them.
And, then, probably when we started having kids, I gave up on having a beautiful tree, and the professor took over the role as chief (read: sole) decorator.
‘Boys! Come on, we’re decorating the tree,’ we summoned the boy-children upstairs from the basement where they were glued to a computer screen. The handing out of the ornaments commenced while the Chipmunks screeched ‘Christmas Time is Here’ in the background.
There were ‘quirky’ ornaments, and picture frame ornaments – with zero photos of Percy, so we pretended the one of the Gort aged 2 was him. ‘Who’s that?’ ‘It’s me!’ ‘Yes, it’s you!’…not really. But I will say, a blurry shot of a two years old Gort wearing a hat is a reasonable facsimile of Percy.
There were fragile ornaments……..and then there were broken ornaments.
A short-ish while later, we had a tree with a disproportionate amount of ornaments resting on its lower half.
Perhaps I can still pull off a ’12 days of Christmas’ advent calendar?