Awesome Christmas Presents

If you haven't considered giving a blood donation yet this year, I urge you to do so.  It doesn't take very long and you get all the free juice and snacks you can eat after.  It's a great deal, and you could save a life.  Plus, as home-made gifts go, it's just about the easiest one you'll ever make and you don't have to worry about wrapping it.

I will say one thing though.  When they tell you to drink plenty of fluids the day before and the day of your donation, I cannot express enough how great that advice is.

Three times in the left...

Only once in the right... but with lots of shifting around.

A few years ago, I gave My Lovely Wife the best Christmas present ever.

She was going out for some last minute shopping with some friends and I thought "wouldn't it be great if I could have the tree up and ready to be decorated when she gets home?" 

"Yes," I answered myself, for there was nobody else home to do it for me. "That would be the greatest Christmas present you could ever give your wife."

"Plus," I added, "It won't take more than twenty or thirty minutes, tops.  Then you could spend the rest of the time playing video games, and it would be totally guilt free because YOU put up the Christmas tree."

"My god," I replied, "I'm a hero and a genius."

I was very pleased with myself for two reasons.  First, for thinking of this wonderful way in which I could make My Lovely Wife love me that much more.  Second, because I had considered this very thing the year before.  Making it even sweeter - I remembered that I had thought of it.  Three reasons, yes three, why I was so very pleased with myself.

We have an artificial tree that we bought the first year we were married.  It is a mighty, artificial tree (as well as a mighty artificial tree) that comes in three sections.  The branches are all colour coded for each level, which doesn't seem like much, but makes a world of a difference when you're putting it together.  When we took the tree down the previous year, I had an idea.  A wonderful, terrible, crazy idea.

What if instead of taking all the lights off the tree and taking it apart and boxing it all up and then having to find all the parts and pieces and do everything in reverse the following year, what would happen if we left all the lights on the tree and then just took it all downstairs and stored it in the basement in one piece?  Then next year we just have to bring it upstairs and throw the ornaments on it and BAM, instant mighty artificial tree.

I know, take a moment to bask in my glory, I'll wait.

So the deal was struck and the tree was carried to the basement, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger (or stood in the corner of the furnace room, it's the same thing).  There it waited, patiently, for the right time to strike.

I dug the tree out from behind the boxes that had grown in front of it over the last 12 months, and took it upstairs.  "This is odd," I thought, "I don't remember having this much trouble moving the tree around last year."  And it was true.  The year that I stored it, it seemed to go right down to the basement, lickity-split.  Now, it was fighting me every step of the way. 

It wouldn't go out the furnace room door without a fight. It got a few good punches in, and I ended up with some scraped knuckles and a bump on my head (I keep forgetting the furnace room door is really low), but I got it out.

Then it wouldn't go up the stairs.  "Strange," I thought, "it went down the stairs fine, why wouldn't go up?"  I pushed and I manoeuvred, but it wouldn't go more than halfway up before getting completely stuck. By now, twenty minutes had passed and this was threatening to seriously cut into my video gaming time.

Frustration growing, I thought back to how I got the tree down.  What had I done?  I basically pushed the tree down the stairs.  The logical opposite is to push the tree up the stairs, but that wasn't working.  Now in to minute thirty, and I was growing desperate.  Okay, pushing the tree up doesn't work, I'll pull it up instead.

I climbed around the tree and started pulling it up.  And wouldn't you believe, it started to work?  The tree began moving up the stairs, just like I planned it.  Now it would only be a quick hop skip and jump to get the tree up in the living room, test the lights and then settle down for some zombie killing.  I was congratulating myself on figuring out how I got out of this tight situation when the tree shifted.  

And got lighter.

Like, two thirds lighter.

Accompanied by loud banging noises.  

And then the tree wasn't in my hands anymore. Some idiot in the basement had pulled it out of my hands!

Ah, if only.

I surveyed the damage and had a long hard think about it.  The tree was in three pieces, stretching from the top of the stairs all the way down.  Each section attached to the next by strings of Christmas tree lights.  I was a man who's dreams were as broken as his Christmas tree.  Now I was going to have to untangle the lights and reassemble it.

This didn't happen last year!  I would have remembered being this angry.  My Lovely Wife would have said something about it being a bad idea and to just take the tree apart.  And that's when I remembered that it took two of us to get the tree downstairs because My Lovely Wife pointed out that if we just pushed it down it would probably come apart due to gravity.

Giving the memory a begrudging shrug (I call it "beshrugging"), I collected the pieces and dragged them all upstairs.  

It took another thirty or so minutes to get the lights untangled.  It involved taking all the branches off the tree, unwinding the lights, then putting all the branches back on the tree and restringing the lights.  Or that's what the last steps would have been, if I hadn't also broken the stand.

I used duct tape, packaging tape and twine to get the base back together, and even then I had to use three books to keep it roughly balanced.  I ended up tying the tree to the curtain rod - which seemed like a totally good idea that could have gone horribly wrong, but didn't - to keep it standing.

I had just gotten the lights turned on when My Lovely Wife returned.  Three hours later.

The zombies had to wait another day to get killed.

This year, we got a different tree.  And I got help from My Lovely Wife.

They were so neatly coiled in the box, how did this happen?

Do not mock me lights, for I shall be your master!

The key is to start at the top and wind your way around the tree clockwise.  Or just throw those muthers up there.

Robyn chooses the perfect spot to place her first ornament.

I spent more time posing with this ornament for this picture than I did choosing where to hang  it.

From our awkward family picture to yours, Happy Holidays!