The Christmas tree incident, part 1.

Last year I set my Christmas tree up on Tuesday, October 19th.

There are lots of assumptions that you could draw from that statement. Perhaps she’s lost her mind – she’s sick – and these are the ramblings of a psycho woman. Perhaps.

But if you give me a couple of days to explain, then you’ll see that waiting until October 19th actually proved restraint on my part.

Almost seven years ago Brian and I were wed and vowed to be faithful in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. Well, the poor part was easy because we were two broke 21 year olds. And being broke, we really didn’t have much money to spend on Christmas decorations. My then boss handed down her ten year old artificial tree. I was thrilled!

Now, there are a couple kinds of artificial trees. There is the variety that are pre-lit with white lights or pre-lit with multi-colored lights. There are the kind that come so that all you have to do is stack the three pieces (kinda like a snowman), and then let the branches drop open. (That variety can come pre-lit or bare.) Then there are the kind that aren’t pre-lit and need to be assembled branch by branch from the floor on up.

Naturally, we were given the latter, the more tedious tree.  Didn’t matter!  We had a tree!

But being that we didn’t yet own Christmas decorations, I used my wedding decorations to make our tree look festive. This included blue lights, blue and white flowers, silver touches, etc. Brian called it “the smurf tree.” He thought it looked terrible.

That year something clicked in my brain and it dawned on me that we’d be coming into Christmas gifts soon, and they’d likely be Christmas-themed gifts. One thing that you should understand about Brian’s family is that they are abundantly, ginormously generous in their gift giving. For example, Brian’s grandmother once had me look through a Home Interior catalog to “get an idea” of the sort of things that catch my eye, the sort of things with which I’d like to decorate my home. Catalog shopping affords an opportunity to dream and to hope, so I thoroughly marked up the pages (wanting to be sure that she really understood where I was coming from, you know, my preferences). She looked at each item that I circled and Purchased. Every. Last. One.

Crazy generous.

But there was no Christmas catalog. Neither the in-laws nor the world knew my Christmas preferences. My future Christmases flashed before my eyes and all I could see was a hodgepodge of Christmas chaos. Santa next to the snowman, next to the gingerbread man, next to the angel, next to the candy canes, next to Jesus, next to Rudolf, next to the polar bear, next to the white lights, next to the colored lights, next to the ribbons, next to the Coca-Cola ornament, next to the hairstylist ornament, next to the icicles…  And all the while I’d feel the pressure to set each trinket out because someone was nice enough to think of me when they purchased it.

These are the sort of things that produce anxiety attacks.

I turned to Brian and insisted, “Brian, we need to pick a theme and we need to pick it now.”

My strategy was that if I could establish a favorite something, then that’d give our friends and family a direction. Then if they were feeling stuck and they saw that something, they’d think, “Oh, this’ll be perfect! Brian and Suzy love these!” Don’t you know people who have a favorite something? So now every time that you see a turtle or a cat or a picture of Audrey Hepburn or the color orange, you think, “Oh! So-n-so will love this!  It has her name all over it!”  That is what I was trying to make happen.

So I established a candy cane theme.

In my humble opinion, this is the perfect theme. It combines both the modern spirit of Christmas and the Christian reason for Christmas all in one piece of candy. While it’s debatable as to whether or not the candy cane was originally crafted to symbolize the birth, ministry and death of Christ, it’s not uncommon to appreciate that symbolism nowadays. I also perceive the candy cane to be sleek, modest and elegant. My mind was painting a picture of a minimalist’s simple, red and white Christmas glittering in my little farmhouse apartment.

So I spread the word.

Everyone knew that the newlyweds liked candy cane stuff.

And that’s how the plan backfired.

You see, now we’ve set ourselves up to receive any and all things that have the slightest whiff of a candy cane.

Say there’s a Christmas platter… And on the platter is a picture of Santa and his sleigh and his reindeer… And they’re taking off from a rooftop with a chimney in the background… And Rudolf is leading the pack… And the giant sack of goodies is bursting at the seams behind Santa… And blue teddy bears and pink baby dolls are spilling out of this sack… And the snow is falling… And Santa has a green and white candy cane in his mouth, a cookie in one hand and a glass of milk in the other… And a Christmas tree is twinkling in the distance…  And the platter is lined with teeny, tiny, dancing gingerbread men… Well someone kindhearted and generous would see that and say, “Let’s get that for Brian and Suzy!  It has a candy cane!”

Yes, I’ve shot myself in the foot by trying to be too controlling. I’m convinced that if someone carved the shape of a candy cane into a jack-o-lantern, or spray painted a candy cane on the side of an elephant, someone somewhere would say, “CANDY CANE! Get it for Suzy!”

To be continued…

Scroll down and hit “next” for Part 2.


  1. October 12, 2011

    I can’t wait to see how many “Parts” you end up breaking this into. I love that you are blogging The Christmas Tree Incident! You only have 73 days until Christmas…when will you decorate this year? …hmmm :o)

  2. June 15, 2012

    After reading this, I started doubting if I actually am square. But after alittle mulling, I think I am a few degrees shy of your squareness for sure, but i realized how dramatically rounded my pointed corners became after having children. It will be very intriging to see how having little Bennett will change things over time. NOT that you won’t be square…heavens no!- It will just be entertaining to see what things you are more square about change. Happy Birthday SquarePiece! I’m really enjoying reading all the old blogs. Brian was so misunderstood in high school.

    • Well, I’ve purchased the plastic, non-shatterable ornaments and they’re lining the bottom of the tree. A few blue and purple bulbs ones are sprinkled in there, so I think that’s growth on my part. 🙂

  3. February 7, 2015

    Was just thinking yesterday about how much I missed your blogging and hoping you would find some time. Love love reading. Because I never had a theme and received so many ornaments as gifts, I’m not sure I could ever change. I’d miss seeing some of the beauties, like my secretary with a telephone. Can’t wait to see where you are going with this story

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