Friday, December 1, 2017

Fluffing the Christmas Tree.

For Thanksgiving, Pam Schwartz and I traveled to her parent’s home in Iowa. Thanksgiving in the Schwartz home involves 25 or more relatives playing games and having a huge Thanksgiving meal. Kids of all sizes run about and everyone talks at the same time. After the big meal, everyone plays board and card games at the kitchen table. The card game Canasta can last until three in the morning. As I am writing this, a board game of Malarky has just begun. Everyone has to come up with answers to little known facts, including reeling a story about why an octopus is thrown on the ice during a playoff hockey league game. Three answers were made up and one answer was correct.

The day after Thanksgiving, the Christmas tree is set up. The family used to cut their own live tree but that tradition ended when two mice were smuggled into the house within it. The artificial tree was tightly bound and wrapped in a green drop cloth. Pam untied the multiple knots and then set up the compressed mess of branches. Each branch had to be spread and then fluffed so that all the needles were spread out. When tree was first set up the trunk which is wrapped in a garland didn’t look very convincing, but by the time Pam had the whole tree fluffed out, it looked reasonably real. She also set up all the lights and hung tinsel. She has a very specific technique in her tinsel hanging. Individual strands were hung creating an airy cascading effect.

There is a family tradition that the tree came with strands of Christmas lights already pre-hung, but one year Pam couldn’t take down the tree because of her scheduled flight out of state. Her dad took down the tree that year and instead of remembering that the top two pieces of the tree don't come apart, he ended up cutting off the strings of lights in annoyance. It should be noted that he actively denies this family accusation.

Every year Pam’s eyes swell the next morning from the dust and the make of the tree branches. That doesn’t stop her from taking care of this traditional chore. The rest of the family sits on the couch and watches or wander throughout the house with other decorations. A new angel went on top of the tree this year since Pam destroyed the previous one attempting to retrofit it to a different light bulb. The new one has translucent violet and green illuminated wings that sparkle.

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