Friday, January 4, 2008

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas

It's now or never for reflections on Christmas decorations.

I got a live, fresh-cut Christmas tree for the first time this Christmas season. Usually, I wait till Lowe's or somebody puts theirs on sale. But this year, the Lowe's trees were 75% off by December 19th-- and you could tell why. Most of them had all the needles fallen off the lower branches. Pathetic.

So on the 21st I went to the only local Christmas tree farm that grows Fraser firs, and got one from them. (The saga is documented here.)

The people at the tree farm said I didn't have to recut the base of the tree after I got home. But next time I'm doing it anyway. It was an hour and a half between the time the saw hit the tree's trunk and the time I got it into water, and that isn't that long. But it hasn't been drinking that much water out of the stand ever since. And that worries me.

Maybe it's not drinking because it's not thirsty, because it was cut fresh? Maybe I'm inexperienced and don't know how a fresh cut tree behaves?

Well, maybe. But if I make a new cut after I get it home, I'll be sure.

Anyway, I put the tree in the stand and brought it inside. This is how it looked:
Nice and conical and symmetrical, right?

And here's how it looked Christmas Eve after I got the lights on it:

Hardly like the same tree. Like something straight out of Dr. Seuss. You expect Cindy Lou Who to make her appearance any second.

What's the problem? Wilting? Dryness? Excessive heat?
(In case you're wondering, that baseboard register is closed.)

No, it's the new strings of lights I bought this year and last, the ones with the lamps 3" on center. With my aesthetic insistance that the lights be clipped to the branches and not float loose between them, this goofy result was inevitable. And so up to where I ran out of clips, about 2/3 of the way up, my tree is effectively roped and hogtied.

So you want a New Year's resolution? I resolve for Christmas 2008 to find some lights with wider spacing. The ones I have take too long to put on, anyway.

But here's something that worked, and I recommend it to all pet owners whose dogs and cats like to drink out of the basin of the Christmas tree stand.

You know those e-collars that fit around a dog's neck to keep him from biting himself where he shouldn't? I clipped two of them together around the trunk to keep the cats out of the tree water. I had one e-collar already, and made a mental note to get another from the pet supply store as soon as I saw the kittens make their first beeline for the stand.

It's great. No puddles on the floor and no cats drinking stuff they shouldn't.

Only question I have now is, do I store the e-collars with the pet supplies, or with the Christmas decorations?