Monday, December 23, 2013


I woke up this morning to find Shaggy sitting at the table drawing Christmas pictures.

'Angie, I think Peter needs a haircut!'

'He has an appointment this afternoon - I told you that yesterday. You never listen to anything I say!'

'Yeah, yeah, I just...uh...what were you saying?'

Angie's huff is not nearly as cute as her puff, but I was too busy making pickled eggs to notice.

Pickled eggs take about two days for the beets to turn the entire egg pink, so you can probably guess at which feast they will be devoured. If not, you're a moron.

As Mama dragged Shaggy off kicking and screaming to his showdown with a barber, I was busy rounding up David and Tom, who were this year's Christmas tree hunters. David ran off to get his 'hunter costume' on.

'What do you think, Papa?'

'You sure you want to open Pandora's box?'

'Who is Pandora?'

'Never mind, let's go! We've got a tree to find!'

When we got to the tree dealer, I saw this cheerful Santa greeting people that like to spend a shitload of money to kill trees.

Last year, Peter was the 'Tree Hunter', so I reflected on the 'Lessons Learned' and laid down a few rules:

1. If you need to pee, you go in the bushes; there are no toilets here - trust me, I know.
2. We are not leaving the plot with the pre-cut trees; ignore the forest over there where you cut your own tree down.
3. We are on a time clock; if you don't find the perfect tree after 20 minutes, Papa decides.
4. Mama said she wants a tall tree this year.
5. David is the one picking the tree this year; what he picks is what we get. Tommy, you're the helper; next year you get to choose.

David walked into the tree farm and made a bee-line to the first tree he saw.

'I want this one!'

I was about to chastise him for not even looking around, but then I remembered the two and a half hours it took for Peter to find the 'perfect tree'. I whistled to the guy in overalls.

'We'll take this one.'

I shit you not; we spent more time trying to get the tree in the car than we did picking it. At one point, the man in overalls strolled by and snickered.

'You might have to leave the kids to fit that tree in.'

'Okay, thanks. I'll pick them up next year.'

At that point, the overalls-dude walked away rather quickly and I turned to see Tommy's lip quivering.

'Papa, I don't want to stay here.'

'Then you better help me squish our tree into the Pedato-mobile.'

In the end, I put David into the trunk and asked him bend the tree into positions that would probably embarrass normal evergreens. Then I slammed the trunk shut and told David to high-crawl over the back seat and buckle up.

All was fine and dandy until I tried sticking the tree into the tree stand. That's when I realized that I had the tree stand for big trees and what I needed was the stand for Redwoods in disguise.

'No problem, Opa gave me a saw one time and I'm pretty sure I can figure out how to use it.'

Angie smirked and Peter almost cried.

'Maybe we can get a new tree tomorrow.'

In the true spirit of Christmas, I ignored annoying family members and focused on the task at hand. When that failed, I tried using the saw as an axe in a way that only Jeffrey Dahmer could appreciate.

Fifteen minutes and a half-gallon of sweat later, I finally answered Peter's fifth offer to help me.

'Sure, can you get me a beer?'

Peter raced off and Angie stepped in.

'Don't you think we should make sure the tree can actually stand first? 

'Calm down, Negative Nancy - we'll get it to work.'

After half a beer, I had whittled down the oversized stump to get it to fit into the stand.

'It's not straight.'

Peter tried briefly to argue with Mama that it was straight, but I've been down this road before, so I simply dropped to the stand and released the grips and told Angie to move it to her ideal latitude and longitude. When she had it in the right position, I racketed the clamps and stood back to admire our tree.

I looked over and saw that our cat had also come in, not so much as to admire, but rather to gape in absolute confusion as to why Master had brought a forest into the living room. Just then, the tree came crashing down and damn near killed our bewildered cat, who justifiably took off running to unknown hiding places.

I laughed, Angie glared, and Peter cried.

'Christmas is ruined! We don't have a tree!'

I interrupted drama boy and assured him that I would erect that tree if it took me all night. Then, well, it really did take me all night. In the end, I almost gave up.

'Honey, the tree is simply too big for the stand. I'll go tomorrow and buy a bigger stand.'

'What? The stand is not the problem.'

I knew that Angie was right, but I still think that buying a bigger stand would have also solved the problem.

Instead of explaining my brain's logic, I dropped down and scooched under the tree to the stand. Angie leveled the tree and I focused on the stand, which was rising up off the ground at a slight angle as Angie found her sweet spot. I pounded the stand to the ground with my fist, admittedly too hard, and then punched the clamps. From underneath the tree, I asked for Angie's assessment.

'Much better! It's stable, it's straight.'

Okay, I would have expected a 'thank you' or a simple 'people should pay you for interviews'. Luckily, like my children, I am accustomed to disappointment.

After finally getting the tree erected, I looked around for Lukie. He wasn't hit, but after almost being killed by falling pine trees, I could understand that he was not exactly in the Christmas spirit. Or was he?

Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That Paul came over and that we got the Christmas tree.
David: That Paul was here and we all had fun.
Tom: That we did the Christmas tree.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That it didn't work by the first 25 times that we tried to stand up the Christmas tree.
David: That the Christmas tree didn't fit in the car.
Tom: That we did with extra in the cave a bench and then we can't watch TV.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to get good presents and get done the presents I need to get done.
David: I want to have good presents and that others like my presents.
Tom: That I have a good day and not a bad day.

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