This year is the first year since moving out that I have my own, full size christmas tree. We’ve never been real tree people – my mom is the daughter of a fire chief and her whole side of the family is staunchly pro-fake tree. Too many holidays in their childhoods were interrupted by fire calls where families lost everything after their too-dry tree went up in flames. And while I don’t really have the same memories, I’ve grown up with fake trees and I love them to pieces.
Last year was my first year in my “own” place (I shared with four other people), and it was pretty much treeless. The house I was living in last year was kind of a fire hazard as is, so a real tree was out of the question. And as for the fake trees I love so much? Well, the one downside to them is that, even thought it’s only a one time purchase, that one time expense is a bit much for my adjunct teaching finances. We did find a small, already decorated tree in one of the closets – probably left by previous tenants – but it wasn’t “ours,” you know?
But a new year came, and with it I moved to a new (much less crowded, cleaner, and safe) apartment, and as luck would have it, my parents bought a new, bigger fake tree for their house. The previous tree had been pre-lit when they bought it about ten years ago, and every year since the light strands have been playing an elaborate game of And Then There Were None. We’d been supplementing what little still lit up with separate light strands, but this last year was the final straw and the final strand lost its glow.
My parents, naturally, having shelled out money for a pre-lit tree specifically for the convenience factor, and now lacking both me and my brother at home to unstring the supplement lights simply decided to chuck it. They bought a new one that they know they can just fold up and put back in the box come the end of Russian New Year. And I, poor apartment dweller that I am, quickly hopped on the opportunity to grab the old tree.
But that meant I had to cut all the lights off. Because they’re wrapped pretty tightly around branches, and if I’m going to be using my own lights anyway, might as well just get rid of the old ones so I can fluff the branches to the maximum capacity, right?
Well, 5 hours and two super scratched up hands later, I finally got them all off. The wires were pretty easy to cut with just a regular pair of scissors, and disturbingly, I found a number of them had already been half severed somehow. My bet is on the cats. What really took the time was unwinding and untangling them from each branch – I didn’t want to cut too much so that I was sure there were no wire fragments left hiding in the branches, so I only cut the strand leading between branches and then unwound each in one big piece.
Now, the tree is up and strung with my own (brighter AND more energy efficient – gotta love LED) lights. Annnndddd, I’m already taking shit from my apartment mate and my boyfriend about it not being real. But I don’t care, I love my fake tree.