It was time. My artist wife’s annual Christmas tree decorating tradition was about to be unleashed.

She was sitting in her blue easy chair in the corner working on her latest digital piece on her iPad. Through our 10-foot picture window, the sun was setting behind the house across the street and quickly drawing the light out of our living room. Our virtual fireplace was aglow on our television screen providing us with its light and warming our hearts while the furnace continued to warm our bodies. The 15 cm of snow from the week before still carpeted our front lawn. It was late November. It was winter. It was dreary.

I’d had enough. “It’s go time,” I decided.

I jumped up suddenly from my familiar perch on our couch (bless her heart for letting me at least sleep in the house after some of the things I’ve written). 

Not knowing what was happening, our 10-year-old son made eye contact with dear old dad.

“Let’s go,” I said.

The Great Tree Hunt

He didn’t know where I was going as I beelined for the basement, but he followed anyway.

In the storage space next to my wife’s art studio, I began pulling box after box from the pile in the corner, stacking them elsewhere in any which way as long as they were out of mine. My son watch from the doorway behind me. He knew I was hunting for something, but hadn’t ever been with me on this annual hunt.

Finally! There it was. The big box at the bottom: Our Christmas tree.

The rest of the boxes were brimming — and teetering — with our other Christmas decorations. While I made our son carry the rest of the boxes upstairs (several trips), I carried the tree (one trip).

When I returned to the living room, I dropped it in front of my wife’s blue easy chair. After 10 years in this house, we both know when the tree comes out, it’s going up within the next day or so.

The dreary November doldrums were ending. Christmas time was here!

Our Christmas Tree Tradition

It’s our tradition — as it is with most families — to put our ornaments on the tree together.

But it’s my wife who takes care of initially setting up the tree. She puts the fake branches together, adds the warm white lights, and places the beaded garland on the fake evergreen branches. She also “fluffs” it up, which is apparently a thing, before the rest of us add our ornamental finishing touches.

To be clear, I’m more than happy to let her take the lead after I drag it out of storage. And not because I’m lazy (I am), but moreso because I have my hands, feet, eyes, ears, nose, and every other appendage full with our outdoor Christmas light display, which is inching closer to 10,000 lights and a potential cease-and-desist order from our neighbors. 

By the time the indoor tree has come out, I’ve already dealt with installing at least nine fake trees in our front yard, covering them with hundreds of lights. More than enough trees for me.

As The Chipmunks’ “Christmas Don’t Be Late” and other familiar festive songs play in the background, our kids will haphazardly put their ornaments on the tree, I will sneak as many Edmonton Oilers ornaments on as humanly possible, and my wife will tolerate the entire process while placing her own ornaments in strategically spaced positions on the fake evergreen branches. 

My Wife’s Tree Tradition

This is where it gets interesting and my wife’s annual tradition kicks in.

I’m not entirely certain whether it’s an artist thing. I would love for that to be the case, but I’m inclined to believe it might be more closely aligned with theories posited in the book, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.

You see, long after the kids have gone to bed that evening, my wife’s tradition is to re-hang many of the ornaments. 

The kids never notice — they’re kids — and, while many thoughts have occurred to me, I’ve never asked what the criteria is for what gets moved and why:

  • Is it a disapproval of certain ornaments?
  • Is it a color balance thing?
  • Does she want to hide some and make others more prominent?
  • Is there a correlation between ornament location and optimum gift placement?
  • Is Santa real?

I’ve never been able to sort it out. And, quite frankly, I’m slightly afraid of the answer to some of these questions so I’ve never asked. 

Nor will answers change anything. Our traditions will remain our traditions.

I’ll continue to toss a tree into our living room at the end of November, my wife will set it up, and we will all decorate together. Then, the ornaments will continue to magically move themselves.

Christmas time is here, indeed.

Read It Again