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Slices of Life - The best tree ever

January 3, 2014
Jill Pertler - Columnist , Traer Star-Clipper

The holidays are a busy time of year. At my house, dividing the duties usually consists of splitting them between me, myself and I. The blame for this rests solely on me, myself and I. There is much to do, and sometimes it seems it's just easier to do it rather than ask for help. I'm sure no one else can relate.

There is a problem with this strategy. I may start the season filled with holiday spirit and optimism about cookies, cards, shopping, wrapping, tinsel and trees but by December 26, I'm as crabby as old Ebenezer - before his visits with ghosts.

This year, I got smart. I turned over complete tree responsibilities to my husband and three sons. It's the best move I've made since placing the letter Z on a triple word square during a game of Scrabble last February.

My boys were more than happy to embrace the task. They set out to purchase a tree and returned home, zealous, effervescent and darn right excited about their tree-picking skills. I admired their choice; despite being a little plump and having two distinct treetops, it was nearly perfect, almost. The best tree ever.

And fresh. My boys assured me the tree had recently been cut and had lots and lots of life left in it. They declared it the freshest tree ever.

And it smelled good. "Nothing like the robust scent of pine in the house," my husband said. I nodded, blowing out the spruce-scented candle burning on the dining room table.

They set about stringing the lights, only to find ours were no longer in working condition. My men refused to be thwarted; they wouldn't let a little glitch like a lack of lights bring them down. They set off again - shopping for an unprecedented two times in one day - and returned home with the best lights ever.

It seems the store had run out of the regular tree lights, so the boys decided to upgrade. "They look old-fashioned," my husband said. "And they'll last for years."

I had to agree, they had an illuminating quality to them. I didn't ask how much they cost.

Next, my men hung the ornaments and candy canes with an enthusiasm usually reserved for sporting events. As I wrapped presents in the kitchen, I listened to them reminisce and revisit memories triggered by individual decorations - between bouts of wrestling over candy cane possession.

Finally, the last ornament hung from its branch. But, my boys' task was far from complete. They were vested in this tree - committed like a man commits to his fantasy football team. Anyone who's had a non-artificial pine tree during the holidays knows the tree is thirsty and requires plenty of water.

Water wouldn't cut the mustard for our special, nearly-perfect, best tree ever. My boys took their tree preservation down to a science. They researched online to find the best formula for maintaining a dying tree in one's living room. I mentioned I'd heard clear soda pop might work. They were appalled at the laziness and lack of creativity in my solution. (To think I'd been using plain water for years.)

They found the best recipe ever and came into the kitchen looking for lemon juice, corn syrup and a couple other ingredients. They measured carefully. They stirred. They poured the mixture into the tree stand and made another batch for the next morning. They've stuck with it for days and I marvel at their efforts to keep our dead tree alive.

I handed over tree responsibilities to my boys this year, thinking I was merely giving up a holiday task. Little did I realize I was helping them share in the fun. Now, as we move toward the big day, they maintain excitement not only about packages, but about their tree. Despite the candy cane crumbles in the carpet, I am not feeling the least bit crabby. I think we may be in for the best Christmas ever.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" Read more and follow Slices of Life on Facebook.



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