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Where to put the stupid tree?

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Posted 11-10-2010 at 12:55 PM by Jeff Westover

Last weekend I found myself driving on a blazing trip to California so my wife could attend to the business of a family medical emergency. I tried to fly her out there but a last minute deal on a one hour flight was more than $1000 so I put her in the car and literally dropped her off at her mother's house and turned around and came back.

This kind of thing was no big deal for the kids as I have left them home alone before, especially since my 24 year old daughter had no work committments for the weekend. As I was literally going out the door -- kids somewhat in shock over the sudden-ness of it all -- I told them if they wanted they could put up the Christmas tree in my absence.

It was a stormy weekend, they would be inside most of the time and it was an activity I felt would keep them happily occupied.


Our main living room -- where the tree has to go -- is very inflexible. It is rectangular in shape, has a large picture window on one end, a large fireplace along the long wall, a door opening along the opposite side and a large, entertainment center where the TV is that simply cannot be moved without a crane. Everything else in the room can be moved and each year we struggle to re-arrange the furniture to accomodate the tree.

I just assumed the kids would set it up like we had it last year. Or in 2006. Or, 2002 was a good year. Whatever. There are only so many options.

I fully expected that I would return from my wild ride with the tree up, sparkling at least with lights and if there was to be an argument it would be over the finer points of ornament placement, light distribution and our traditional argument over the angel or the star.

But I have daughters. Six of them. And placing a Christmas tree in an inflexible room with few options is a little like trying on shoes for the party dress. Everyone seemed to have a better idea and by the time I arrived on the scene -- saddle weary after driving 1500 miles in about 28 hours -- I opened the door to a completely chaotic scene of furniture all over the room, the tree in pieces on the floor and lots of finger-pointing, loud voices and eye rolling.

I was quickly asked for my opinion.

But I wasn't about to fall into that trap. Been there, done that, got the scars. You don't under any circumstances actually say what you think when it comes to a woman and her sense of Christmas tree placement -- no matter what the age.

"I don't know", I wisely said. "What did you guys come up with?"

Talk about throwing yourself upon the altar. I settled into my chair -- in the center of the room -- tired and resigned to what knew was ahead.

Detail. Lots of it. I was rehearsed every conversation of the previous six hours, every point and counter point, and there were tears, cries of "it's not fair" and "she always gets her way". I knew better to stop it. Best to just let them spew. Get all the air out of the balloon before I brought them back up.

Finally, when the impasse had been completely dramatized I suggested that we eat, start a fire and give it some more thought.

I excused myself to go to the bathroom, where I discreetly took my cellphone and called my wife, asking for suggestions.

I knew my wife was not feeling well, having caught my cold on the trip and dealing with a lot of headaches of her own where she was. But instead of a quick answer I was shocked to hear her rehearse her own lengthy thoughts about the issue.

Sheesh, will this ever end? Christmas will be over before we get this settled.

I finally thanked my for her non-help and resolved to make no one happy and make the decision. After dinner, of course.

Finally, over an outstanding serving of macaroni and cheese, it was my son, of all people, who had the presence of mind to keep his head inside his PS3 the whole time this was going on, who solved the issue. Without saying a word, he got up from his chair and started moving furniture while everyone else ate.

He started a fire. He quickly placed a few branches on the tree where he placed it. He put on some Christmas music. By the time dinner was done and everyone migrated out to the living room to resume to battle he had the walls bleeding Christmas. It was all arranged in a completely new way. And he hadn't said a word.

"I like it." my 14 year old said.

"So do I!" gushed my ten year old.

My 24-year-old, Aubree, sighed. Clearly she was more weary of the debate than convicted of her version of how things could go. She was the major obstacle, the one to win over. She punched her brother in the arm and called him a dork.

That, my friends, is approval.

And we're good for another year. Crisis over.
Total Comments 1


  1. Old Comment
    Oh Jeff. Thank you or sharing this. This is too hysterical. I do hope things are okay with Mrs. Westover and her family though. You are such a wonderul writer.
    Posted 11-10-2010 at 02:23 PM by caninemom3 caninemom3 is offline
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