Back in 1986, The Bitch, who was not quite as bitchy as she is now, and The Doc, who was not quite as grumpy as he is now, moved in together. Since December of that year, when they were so excited to be spending their first Christmas together in the same house, they have participated in the annual Christmas tree hunt. A much-loved tradition with a capital T.
The Doc would lace on his heavy-duty boots, pull on is go-into-the-woods jacket, grab his trusty saw and flash his million-dollar grin. He was, by The Bitch’s standards, the best-looking hair-challenged guy in the world.
With festive dreams of perfect trees, they headed off to the local tree farm. They tramped through the slopes, tripped over stumps, stepped into puddles, crushed crystalized snow, and hummed and hawed over shapes and branches until they found the perfect tree, which was never really perfect–something they always discovered once it was in the stand. But it was always perfect enough after the decorations were hung. This adventure pretty much marked the beginning of their Christmas season for thirty-five years.
Now it is year thirty-six and things are different. This year, The Doc is seventy-four and requires two new knees. The first replacement will hopefully take place in 2023. Tramping through slopes and tripping over stumps is difficult enough with good knees. Pretty much impossible with two bad ones. On the other hand, The Bitch, after a year of leaky pipes, damaged roofs, contractors and repairs, wants to make life and Christmas as easy as possible. The consensus between the two was that easy as possible meant not cutting a tree down and not having to deal with putting on all the lights. Especially putting them on some half-dead-Christmas-tree-lot offering that was cut in mid November in order to make it to market by December first.
The solution–not a solution that was made lightly because The Bitch always loved her real tree covered in ruby red mini lights–was to get an artificial tree. An imitation. A fake. A man-made replica. A manufactured product. A phony knockoff. A reproduction, A faux spruce. A simulated pine. It didn’t matter what it was called, it was never going to live up to thirty-five years of real trees.
So The Doc and The Bitch jumped into the Ford Escape to venture into the world of fake-tree forests. They went to the fake forest of Canadian Tire, where counterfeit Christmas trees greeted them as soon as they entered. It was a sad, sad display of lit-up green bottle brushes. None of which were ever going to grace the coveted floor space of their family room. They went to the fake forest of Home Depot, where the offerings were a bit better, if you stood at a reasonable distance and squinted. They hummed and they hawed over one that just might do only to realize that it was seven and a half feet high and would not fit into the lower level of their home with its mere seven-foot-ceiling. Next they went to the fake forest of Kent only to be further disappointed by the terrible imposters in their mock tree display. Finally, they went to the fake forest of The Bay, where Christmas was once beautiful but alas was lovely no more. There, they were greeted by worst collection of dummy trees that they had seen all day. It was an exhausting exhaustive search. Such a disappointment.
Thinking about the one that might just do at the fake forest of Home Depot, The Bitch decided to try their online forest of forged trees. She scrolled and scrolled. She zoomed in close and read lines and lines of descriptions. She checked reviews, all the while knowing that her standards were probably higher but needing some sort of feedback. She picked one out that just might do and was also only six and a half feet high. She showed it to The Doc and they decided to place an order. The fake tree would be shipped to the store for pick up in a couple of weeks.
The tree arrived early. A relief because if it wasn’t going to work, a real tree would have to be found and decorated in time for the holidays. The Bitch opened the box to discover no instructions and no spare lights or fuses as indicated in the on-line description. How hard could it be to put together a tree that consisted of three pieces and a stand? Not that hard apparently because it was together quite quickly.
But it looked like shit! It appeared crooked and bunched up with major gaps in the branches between the joins. At this point, The Bitch was ready to pack it back into the box and return it to Home Depot. And She nearly did.
The Doc tried to stay uninvolved by saying he was going out to bring in firewood, but The Bitch was having none of that. “Oh no you don’t,” she said, with a tone that meant, don’t you dare. “WE need to decide whether we are keeping this tree or not.” The problem was that neither The Doc nor The Bitch wanted to admit that this tree was probably their only option. After convincing themselves that the easier option of a fake tree was the best option, they really didn’t want to go back to the harder options of cutting one down and putting on the old lights. This year, they really didn’t have the energy for the harder options.
While The Doc looked on, The Bitch yanked the middle of the tree so that it straightened up. She then began separating and rearranging branches to make it appear more treelike and less open in spots. Well maybe it will work they thought after a while. Maybe. They left it in the middle of the floor and went on to do other things stopping by every now and then to study it and ruminate on its possible future.
The next day, The bitch moved the tree into place and attempted to put some decorations on it to see whether it would work or be sent back. She started with the shiny red strands of beads, that had graced all of their past Christmas trees only to realize that it was a real pain in the ass to put them over the boughs and to get them to drape the way nice beads should. If, she thought, if we keep this damn tree, the beads may not be going on next year. Suffice to say, the air was a tad blue while The Bitch was stringing those red beads. Nothing makes a frustrating job feel better than a few select cuss words.
Surely the beads were the worst part. Surely.
Santa owns the place of honour on The Bitch’s Christmas tree. He sits proudly on top in his magnificent red coat and hat. So upon completion of the beads, Santa was next in line. But Santa couldn’t sit on this tree. There was nothing strong enough to hold him in place. The top of this fake tree is a single flimsy plastic bough. Santa needs a few boughs for support, after all he has never been considered slim. Not to be outdone by some imposter, The Bitch stuck a knitting needle up her beloved Santa’s bottom and wired him to the tree. If we keep this tree, The Bitch thought, this knitting needle will need to be permanent.
Pretend trees must be designed for plastic ornaments because this particular tree certainly didn’t take to The Bitch’s glass decorations. Placing Christmas balls was a tedious, strategic, repetitive affair. After hanging only five, all of which took several attempts to find a spot where they would work, The Bitch walked away. It should be noted that this was also the day that water was, once again, dripping through her bathroom ceiling revealing another leaky pipe so The Bitch was real bitchy to begin with and some of this annoying tree nonsense might have had something to do her state of mind. At that point that tree was heading for strike three.
By the next day, the bathroom leak was fixed. The Bitch and The Doc had had a good night’s sleep and managed to hang the rest of the ornaments on the counterfeit tree. When they turned the lights down, stood back and squinted a little, that tree almost looked real.
And look, to prove how hard the imposter was working to be authentic, it even dropped fraudulent needles.
Merry Christmas and thank you for reading.
Photos: Jenn Stone