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Christmas Preparation Redux

You’re probably blinking and rubbing your eyes, wondering if you’ve read the post title correctly. Surely Yours Truly isn’t so daft as to write a Christmas-related post. What with the new year begun and all.

Well, the title is correct and you’re wrong. I am that daft. And absent-minded as well, it seems. Back in mid-December I had posted about the trials and tribulations of preparing for our first Christmas here in Nederland.

I had every intention of following up with another post on this year’s Christmas prep foibles. Except that I became very busy and forgot.

Embarrassing, I know.

But in the category of ‘better late than never’ (or actually, ‘better write it before you forget it again’), here’s the rest of the story.

First, I want to report that having put a notation in my calendar planner for late November (trust me, it makes more sense if you read the aforementioned post about last year first), I successfully headed to our trusty lawn and garden center at the beginning of December to pick up wreath hangers.

Of course there was only one choice (brown, with a hokey Santa figure attractive only to a three year old child). Definitely not my style. I had been thinking along the lines of a simple, classic brass hanger. But given my knowledge of Dutch inventory practices (i.e., there will be one and only one choice, so you might as well get over it), I grabbed two. And was grateful. See, I’m acclimating!

Flush with my wreath hanger success and after prevailing over last year’s trials and tribulations, I must admit that I went into this year’s Christmas decoration process absolutely convinced that it would be a breeze. Bad move. You know how they say ‘pride goeth before a fall’?

Well, I fell.

The first surprise was when Husband and I went to our typical Dutch storage shed in our typical (small) Dutch garden/patio area. We were met with a rather foul smell. Due to the fact that said typical shed had a (typical) leak, and typical Dutch rain had seeped in and dampened the heavy duty fabric storage bag in which the Christmas tree was stored. Resulting in mold. How maddeningly typical…

Upon further inspection, the good news was that the mold (and foul smell) only resided on the storage bag, and not the tree itself. I reminded myself how ‘lucky’ I was for the two days I had to step over the entire smelly heap that lay on the floor of our (typically) small Dutch kitchen.

Why was it on the floor you ask? Because we had managed to misplace the Christmas tree stand that featured so prominently in last year’s saga. And we were in the middle of a typical multi-day rainy spell, so that leaving the tree storage bag outside wasn’t an option. Hence my karaoke-style dance gyrations over and around the darn thing. Trying to load or unload the dishwasher took an effort worthy of Dancing with the Stars/Strictly Come Dancing consideration.

I finally unearthed the miscreant stand in Son’s room. Now I do not know for the life of me why I would choose to put it there. Perhaps aside from the fact that, as I’ve mentioned before, a corner of poor Son’s room has become the repository for items we don’t know where else to put just yet.

(Okay, I just reread that last sentence and would like to fess up that Son’s room has become a dumping ground. There. I said it. I am a bad mother.)

So I lugged the tree stand down the two flights of stairs (sixteen stairs each, I might add), and we set about putting up the tree. Except that the stupid nut holes on the stupid stand had miraculously become stupidly stripped. How can that be when they were perfectly functional last year, and all they did in the intervening year is sit quietly in a corner of Son’s room?

When we tightened the bolts and stood back to gaze upon our lovely tree, it fell over. No amount of tightening worked. The tree was too tall and heavy for the malfunctioning stand.

So we were faced with the choice of trying to find another tree stand.

Not likely, it already being well into December. You may recall my mention of limited choice earlier in this post as well as in last year’s Christmas prep and yet another previous post (Kleine Dingen, here); the Dutch seemingly do not understand the economic terms of opportunity cost and just-in-time inventory delivery*.

In addition to usually stocking only one version of an item, they also never seem to restock popular seasonal items. Once they’re sold out, that’s it. No more until next year.

We could scrap the tree and go for a small real tree. But that would be too easy. And make too much sense.

Given that the tree’s embedded lights were fried (due to Husband’s tinkering last year), some of the branches were permanently drooping (due to storage in a bag shoved into a shed), and the whole thing had a slight whiff of eau de mold, we knew the tree was on its last season. But being sentimental (or rather, too lazy to go get a real tree, let’s be truthful here), we choose the third (and rather dopey) option of removing the heavy bottom third of our artificial tree.

The top two thirds of the tree were short and light enough to rest safely in the bolts of the broken tree stand. Without even swaying. So we decided to go with a dwarfish, odd smelling version of a Christmas tree.

I know, I know, you cannot make this stuff up.

This is why Husband and Yours Truly are not allowed to make life and death decisions affecting the welfare of others. Except for Son and Daughter, of course.

This is the part where we put the lights on the tree and finish decorating it. Except that we couldn’t find the lights. Yes, those would be the lights we had to buy last year because of Husband’s said frying of the tree’s original lights.

At this point I had already torn the house apart looking for the tree stand, and hadn’t noticed any light strands. Husband wanted to forego the lights and just put on the decorations. I, of course, was aghast. A tree without lights? Absolutely not.

So the next day I went back to the lawn and garden center to buy MORE tree lights. Fortunately it is one item for which you have myriad options and plenty of supply. While there, I thought I’d pick up another wreath hanger or two.

No, I do not know why I thought I could do this. Everyone can see this next sentence coming a mile away.

The wreath hangers were all gone. They’d sold out in the two days it’d taken us to put up the dwarf tree and realize the Christmas lights were missing in action. Well, duh. Cue the sound of my hand slapping my forehead.

At this point the Christmas Tree gods took pity on me and decided I’d suffered enough for this year. And yes, I am fully aware of the irony of Christmas Tree gods and the entire reason why we have Christmas trees in the first place. But it’s my blog and I can write for dramatic effect if I so choose.

We put the lights on the tree, loaded it up with half of our usual decorations, sprayed a little air freshener, and plugged the sucker in. Voila!

Ons Kerstboom 2010

*Actually, I think they do understand these concepts, but don’t care. They are scoffing at us, we just don’t know it.

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