Bundoo’s Twelve Days of Christmas: Decorating the Tree with Dr. Jen
When I was a kid, decorating our tree for Christmas was an all-day affair, or at least it seemed that way in my kid brain…
We would start by trying to get our fake tree out of the attic crawl space (note that we always had a fake tree because my mom was convinced only real ones could light on fire. I’m not sure synthetic plastic was really much safer, but I never won the argument). This extraction involved many curses and usually my parents sending me in as I was the smallest and could try and get behind the huge box and shove it out. Sometimes I wondered if I would make it out alive. Thankfully, I always did.
Finally, when the tree was freed and carried down to our living room, the assembly line began. I had to sort the branches by colors so they could be placed in order on the tree. After they were placed on the tree, the branches had to be fanned out just so. Every year I was instructed as to how to achieve the optimal branch-fanning pattern. If you are curious, I’m happy to demonstrate–it has been burned into my brain!
Next the lights went on. This was always my job and I took it very seriously: I had to hold the lights and follow my dad around the tree approximately 742 times while he put more twinkly lights on a 6-foot tree than what went on the behemoth in Rockefeller Center. I tried to always give him just enough slack without any knots or kinks. This personality trait served me well in medical school (“Cut the suture JUST LIKE I SAID!”). My dad would twist the lights around the branches so tightly that every year my mother would just cut them off the tree instead of trying to take them off and reuse them. I think this is partly why I am so into recycling today: to make up for all that waste.
Finally, the ornaments. By this point my dad was exhausted and usually supervised my mom and I from the couch. We would have to leave the bottom third of the tree bare because of our dog and cat, so you can imagine how visually pleasing this was.
What came next was my absolute favorite thing about Christmas: TINSEL! My mom can’t stand the stuff and still to this day tries to revolt against the tinsel, but she will never win this argument. My dad and I would always transform our tree into a silvery winter wonderland (and let’s be real: how flammable is that stuff?!), but it wasn’t Christmas until the tinsel was on.
At last, we would be done! Our beautiful, two-thirds decorated faux tinsel-covered tree brought us much joy. Except for the next month when we’d be obsessively vacuuming up tinsel and finding it in our pet’s poop, that is. It was a Christmas miracle they survived!