Christmas for me was about jumping in the warm car to go tramp around in the ice cold evening wind for an hour or two admiring the lights around the lake, usually accompanied with a trip to the local church light display said to be one of the biggest on the eastern seaboard. Waiting as dad drove us around in circles in the packed parking lot was about as magical as it got. It was considered a "miracle" if we found a prime spot right up front (near the nativity set). Those glowing figurines always looked so innocent when caught in the headlights.
Yes, Christmas was about the details of getting through it. One year, me, my dad, and my brother attempted to assemble the fake Christmas tree, and it took nearly the whole day. We rolled the plastic Douglas Fur out of the box, and when the trunk wasn't fitting together, my dad literally took the thing to his workbench in pieces to rig up some PVC piping to hold them in place. His explanation was that by the time the thing was decorated we wouldn't even notice it, before going off on a tirade against the "plastic Christmas tree industry" for over-engineering the thing so damn much with their "know-it-all college degrees." We stuck the pieces together, bottom to top, and set to work unfolding the branches. Then we took a step back, and something didn't look quite right. "Dad, I think it's upside down..." I said.
Sure enough, the tree started out small at the bottom and was exploding near the top. After a laugh, we pulled it apart, tore off all the "modifications," and put it together the way those college-educated know-it-alls at the company most likely intended. We threw on some ornaments and three hours after we had first taken it from the box, it was up, with all its pieces in the right order. Something tells me it would've been up in twenty minutes if mom was home. *knock knock* "Do they still make wooden Christmas trees?"
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