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The Crap Tree December 21, 2006

Posted by daveintexas in Work and Life and Love.
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BUMPED on account of it’s CHRISTMAS! 

I wrote this little nothing story two years ago.  Michele at asmallvictory.net was kind enough to publish it and I found out what a huge rush it was to write things that touched some of us, common experiences, feelings we shared. 

Incidentally, you can catch up with Michele and a bunch of cool writers at Faster than the World

The comments and emails kind of encouraged me to finally start blogging on my own, that and Michael inviting me to be a guest commenter at Innocent Bystanders.  Later on, in a moment of weakness, or what I like to refer to as “the lost weekend”, ace at AceofSpadesHQ asked me to be a guest commenter on his very popular blog, and I embarrassed the hell out of him until he decided to sober up and take control again.  I also had a couple of gigs at Rightwingsparkle.com, and I like to think it was me that drove her to real life.  Rumors that she retired to carry our love child into the world are vile accusations not worthy of a response, and I’m quite certain she will not dignify them with even a “what the hell are you smoking Dave”? But I was hooked on the blogging thing. So I pretty much blame them   I was ok until they did whatever they did to me. Since then I’ve regaled all four of you with tales and humourous anecdotes.  Don’t be shocked, I really don’t know how to spell humourous. Anyway, I thought I would bore the three of you left with this, my first blog piece, back when I stood on the shoulders of giants, and threw peanuts onto the third baseman trying to snag the pop fly. Please love me.  I hope you enjoy it.  

 

Several years ago my wife conceived a plan to take over Christmas decorations in our home. She’s been very patient, moving so carefully that I only realized the scope of her plan this year. This fight isn’t over, not by a long shot. But I’ve lost a lot of ground. 

I am what you would call a ‘Christmas kind of guy’. I love Christmas. I love the lights and the pretty packages, the wreaths, the greenery hanging everywhere. I like Christmas plates and coffee cups. Christmas cookies, Christmas music, Christmas towels in the bathrooms, Christmas napkins, Christmas movies and books, if they had Christmas toilet paper I would buy two cases (does anybody know if they make that?). I think Christmas lights on pickup trucks look terrific.   

closeup1.JPG

 I really dig Christmas. 

As soon as the clutter is cleaned away from the Thanksgiving feast, I’m up in the attic getting boxes down. I know where every one of them is, and I pretty much know what’s inside of them. Not because I pack them up every January (that always makes me sad).  I suppose it’s just that we tend to use the same boxes for things. You could sum up my taste in Christmas decorations in one phrase. Colored lights. Yes, like the late Michael Kelly wrote on the topic of Christmas lights, there are white light people, and colored light people. I’m in the second group. Years ago I conceded the inevitability of teeny lights taking over. I gave up trying to find strings of lights with those big painted bulbs that burned your fingers. I miss them, but I understand. Technology changes things. But even if they’re teeny, I have to have colored lights. This theme extends to other decorations.   

 closeup2.JPG

I have an affinity for Christmas-schlock. The cheesier the better. A dancing Santa Claus with an electric guitar and sunglasses? Oh yes. Strings of lights that look like jalapenos? Lovely. Elves laid out in a winter North Pole Office Party display, holding little cans of Bud Light while singing drunken Christmas tunes? I am so there.  And you have guessed the dark secret of Christmas in our home. My wife is not a colored lights kind of person. She is a white lights gal. I don’t blame her, taste is subjective, right? Eye of the beholder and all that. We can coexist. We can cooperate, compromise, a little give here, a little take there. We’ll find a way to get along. You know, the Russkies and the Americans. Detente baby.  

 

fender_ornament.JPG 

limited edition strat and twin reverb amp ornament

Well, I was wrong so I didn’t see it coming. It started with a new Christmas tree. She brought it home a few years ago. It’s bigger than our old tree. 10 feet. It’s frickin ginormous!   Me, I’m all excited. What could be better than one Christmas tree? Two trees! Oh yeah, two sets of lights and ornaments and glitter, extra room for more presents. This will be so cool! I set the new tree up first. In the formal dining room, right there in the front window where everyone can see it. We decided the older tree would be just fine in the family room, we moved some things around and set it up there. Looked just fine. I didn’t even notice when my wife pulled the strings of white lights out that something was amiss. ‘Sure’, I thought, ‘woo… fan-cee’. What the heck. White lights on the new tree. Then I noticed we had packages (really nice packages, you know, the kind of shopping bags you keep cause they’re so pretty?) with more ornaments in them. Impressive looking ornaments too, glass and crystal and gold. Wow. But hey, 10 foot tree, sure, we’ll need more stuff to put on it. It was when I reached into a box to pull out my favorite lights, the string of little Fender Telecasters, and headed for the new tree, that the plan in its entirety was revealed to me. She said ‘STOP right there!’ evenly spacing her words using a tone of voice that said I should seriously consider stopping right there. ‘There will be none of that on this tree’, she said. Same tone. I said what most husbands say when they are confronted with possible wrongdoing. ‘Wh-a-a-at?’ Real slowly, dumb-like. ‘No guitar lights. No old pictures. No jalapenos’ she said.  

guitars_jalapenos.JPG

And she was deadly serious.  She looked right at me and announced ‘this is the ‘nice tree’’. 

The Nice Tree™. In the front room, prominently displayed in the big window. I looked around. The other decorations in the room began to make sense to me. The special Christmas china was set on the formal table. The expensive candle holders on the table by the entry, with long tapered white candles in them, you know, the kind you can’t get at Wal-Mart (10 for .55 cents). And then I understood. This room, was going to be ‘pretty’. Like a Christmas display at some expensive store on 5th Avenue, the ones whose names I can’t pronounce correctly.  I looked at what was now my tree. Guitar lights. Ornaments from Fender. The decorations my kids made in Sunday school with funny shaped noodles and gold spray paint. Popsicle sticks and yarn and pictures. Hidden in the family room where no eye shall be offended. No one can see it. 

I began calling my tree the “Crap Tree”. 

The Nice Tree has gold swirly things on it, and a special tree skirt thingy made of silk and shiny stuff. It’s really pretty. It looks like something you would find in one of those stores in Salado. The Crap Tree has an old skirt made of something that looks like shag carpet. It has a pattern that sort of resembles a Christmas tree, at least, the way a Christmas tree looks to a myopic drunk. In a moment of weakness my brother in law crocheted it for us. It’s been more than 15 years and I still kick his ass about that.  

ornament_box.JPG

easy to spot boxes

I  am not allowed to put my special guitar ornaments on the Nice Tree. Who am I kidding? I’m not allowed to put anything on the Nice Tree. Every now and then, I sneak one on it when no one is looking. It doesn’t matter. My oldest daughter finds it and moves it back. At lease I’m not completely alone in my fight, my youngest daughter will take one of my ornaments and sneak it back on the nice tree.  Occasionally sibling rivalry will overcome their natural tendency to gang up on you because of gender affiliation.  Which is nice.  

The Crap Tree has lights on it from The Hard Rock Café.  I think those are my favorite, although the lights that look like jalapenos are a close second.  Ever since my wife debuted the Nice Tree, Christmas in our house has been looking a little different. The living room is starting to spread out. Our old Frosty the Snowman and Christmas tree hand towels we used to put in the guest bathroom have been replaced with much prettier hand towels. None of us is allowed to touch them.  You wash your hands in this bathroom, you better wipe them off on your blue jeans. My ‘singing Santa’ with the electric guitar and the sunglasses is now back in my bedroom on the dresser. The battery has been removed. This year I couldn’t find the Drunken Office Party Elves. My wife says she has no idea what happened to them. She says it in a way that makes me think she knows exactly what happened to them, and I will never see them again.

pdr_0026.JPG

Olive, the other reindeer

So I know what I’m up against. Soon, next year, or maybe the one after that, I will find myself engaged in a desperate battle, a last stand in front of my dearest Christmas decoration, the Crap Tree.  

She may relent. The Crap Tree has ornaments that have all our Christmas memories on it, 22 years worth. Decorations we bought when we spent our first Christmas together. Things our friends gave to us. Decorations that her students gave to her. Special ornaments with years on them from Christmases past that go back before our kids were born. Pictures of the girls when they were little in red and white Christmas dresses, hugging Santa and telling him how good they had been this year. So long ago, before cars and boys and college. Every now and then I find a little bit of attic insulation in one of the branches, from a Christmas years ago when I slipped in the overhead and put my foot through the ceiling, right over the tree. The youngest looked up and said ‘Mommy, it’s Santa’! I think she was 4.   I love the Crap Tree. It is an old friend. It’s the decoration in our house that says “Christmas” to me, and I hope it always will.

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Comments»

1. The Crap Tree « Innocent Bystanders - November 28, 2006

[…] My first real introduction to Dave in Texas was a link in a comment thread at Ace of Spades HQ to a guest post he had written at A Small Victory (now defunct).  It was called The Crap Tree, which Dave has now republished on his blog.  It’s a gem.  If you’re in the mood for some Christmas spirit, go take a look. […]

2. Paul - November 28, 2006

Holy Crap! I remember reading about The Crap Tree and thought it was fantastic. I tortured the woman I was dating at the time with threats of creating my own Crap Tree and building upon your idea to create an entire, parallel “Crap Christmas”.

I never realized you were the “genius” behind the Crap Tree. Nice job!

3. geoff - November 28, 2006

Nice to see that story again. I had my wife read it last year, and she loved it too. But she also gave me The Look and said, “Don’t get any ideas!”

Ah well.

4. Michael - November 28, 2006

I lost the war about six or seven years ago. The first big mistake was giving in to an artificial tree. When the kids were small, we always had a real tree, with colored lights and tinsel. Then the kids turned out to be white light types like Mrs. Michael (frickin’ little traitors). Now we have a department-store-looking tree that is very pretty. I miss the motley assortment of ornaments accumulated over the years and pregnant with memories.

I also miss those big fire-hazard bulbs that burned your fingers. When I was a kid, we had this really ugly puce-colored bulb with a spiral thingy at the tip. Some of the color had flaked off. It was the ugliest bulb you ever saw, but it never burned out. Year after year, that thing was on the tree. It became kind of a family tradition – the ugly bulb that would not die.

5. PattyAnn - November 28, 2006

This story was definitely worth the wait, Dave.
Loved it.

6. Nice Deb - November 28, 2006

Dave, you’re going to be jealous because I have the big, multi-colored, burn your finger lights. We put those on our tree in the living room, along with all the family heirloom, and kids homemade ornaments. Our bigger and more tasteful color coordinated, white light tree goes in our dining room, too. We have a patriotic red white and blue decorated tree that we put in our loft. Then we have assorted smaller table top trees as well. On the day after Thanksgiving I bought a 4 ft, pre-lit with white lights, shiny, silver tree for only $24.99. It was so wonderfully gaudy I had to put it up right away, (downstairs sitting area).

I love Christmas, too. It’s funny that you reposted this today, because I spent most of the afternoon putting all my fall decor away in the attic, and bringing down the xmas stuff. We’ll put up the trees, this weekend for the first Sunday of Advent.

7. Wickedpinto - November 29, 2006

Not exactly a crap tree story, but another example of christmas cheer through exubberance and sarcasm:

In ’97 I was in Okinawa, away from my family (almost a full year) as were all of my friends. I and my roommates (some of my best MC friends) had “the cool room” big TV, Big Stereo, spoke the language (enough) and would dismantle our bunks on weekends, turning the room into a night club (thats different though) come holiday time, my mother called me and asked what I wanted for christmas. I said “nothing, but can you get aunt sandy and judy to bake some cookies?”

She asked, and she got, and she baked herself, and she sent me (gig this) 3 bibles! and also, she sent me one of those little walgreens tree’s that runs on a single double A battery.

My roommate, and prolly one of the nicest people I knew in the MC, was all about christmas, every night he would put the little 8″ or so tree in our window, and leave it on all night.

Our other friends started to catch on to pete’s (my christmas fanatic roommates name was pete) enthusiasm, so as everyone started recieving their gifts, started storing them in our room.

One day, I don’t know if it was petes comment, or a guy named murphy, who was nice, but a bit of a lowlife, but still DEFINATELY FUNNY! AS HELL! said something like “Thats too many gifts for their to not be a tree!”

And I DO remember that it WAS pete’s idea, “We do have a tree!!!” Mind you, by this time we had at least 9 peoples gifts displayed in a circular fashion thanks to petes obsession, and the fact that pete had so many friggen gifts, so pete walks over to my “secretary” grabs the little 8″ or so christmas tree, and sets it on top of the presents, I have a negative of that picture somewhere, and it’s hillarious.

Pete also bought mulitcolored strands of lights for our windows, christmas eve, he tore them from the window, and he draped them all around the room.

So on Christmas Morning, 9 maybe more “manly” “tough” Marines gathered in my and my roomates room for the opening of the presents.

It was ridiculous, symbolic pleasant, and very . . .I would say almost descriptive of all young individuals in unfamiliar environments working to maintain even the SMALLEST ritual of their own cultures (even if the smallest part is an 8″ fake christmas tree)

Sorry if it seems like a thread jack, but, I would rather think it is a story that agree’s with yours.

8. genghis - November 29, 2006

What, no little OU logos?

9. kevlarchick - November 29, 2006

What about those old lights that would bubble when they got hot? Loved those. I’ve seen replicas of the burning lights in stores this year, but they are plastic. Not nearly as satisfying to break.

10. Feisty - November 29, 2006

You should keep and display all half-broken ornaments (decapitated cheap reindeer, armless cheap Santas, etc)…then you can have a Feisty-style Crap Tree.

11. a-a - November 29, 2006

I remember this story from when you first did it. I was hoping that when you reposted it, it would be updated with “Its going to be a bittersweet Christmas this year since my wife was “accidentally” electrocuted when a strand of white Christmas tree lights fell into her bath.”

I am so glad im not married.

Merry Christmas Dave.

12. skinbad - November 29, 2006

We put ours up last Sunday. Yea, verily, it is a crap tree. The funny thing is my wife found some matching ornaments she loves years ago and has them stored for when the season of the crap tree passeth. Maybe I should suggest an upstairs (civilized) and a downstairs (pagan) tree. She might love me even more. As if that were possible.

13. Retired Geezer - November 29, 2006

Yea, verily, it is a crap tree.

Yeah, ours also-eth.
Fortunately Mrs. Geezer is a ‘colored lights’ person too.
In the last 30 years, we have bought probably:
5 ‘cut’ trees,
20 Live trees that we planted after Christmas, (some are over 20 feet tall)
2 artificial trees of the Green Colored variety.
We’ll be using the artificial tree again this year. Doesn’t look too bad either.
I mean for a Crap Tree.
When we dig out the Festive Boxes, I’ll send you some pictures of *our* schlock ornaments.

14. Mrs. Peel - November 29, 2006

That’s a great story, Dave. I admit I’m somewhat of a white lights person myself…but I do have a handful of cheesy Star Trek ornaments. And, of course, an Orbiter, with payload bay doors that really open and an attached astronaut and satellite, which are ridiculously not to scale.

We used to have more of a crap tree, but now we just do the white lights and these nifty glass balls with lace and ribbon inside. My Mimi made them many years ago. She absolutely loved Christmas.

Personally, I’m not much on decorating. When I have a house of my own, I’ll probably get one of those pre-done two-foot-tall trees and just stick that on a table somewhere. I can already hear my mom bitching about the lack of festivity. It’ll be great.

15. Pupster - November 29, 2006

Nice post Dave, I enjoyed reading it. I still have 3 strings of the “lights with those big painted bulbs that burn your fingers” from my Grandpa Pupster’s house (center of frame, on split rail fence).

Mrs. Pupster and I are both cheesy ornament and colored light people, but our only Christmas decorating dilemma is she is a “chaser light” person and I am a “twinkle-bulb” person.

I don’t like chaser lights because they never seem to survive the packing/unpacking process from year to year. It’s just weird.

16. cranky - November 29, 2006

Damn, Dave. Now you went and put me in the spirit when I would have probably gone all bah humbug. I’m gonna go build me a Crap Tree this year. Know where I can get some NASCAR ornaments?

You, sir, are an inspiration.

17. Michael - November 29, 2006

I love this post. The pictures are priceless. The themes are even better. Family, tradition, celebration. Thanks for publishing this again.

18. Patton - November 30, 2006

Hey! I remember when that was first posted. This is like deja vu all over again.

But worth a repost, for certain.

19. Kyrie - November 30, 2006

I LOVE your ‘crap tree’ story! I forget where I saw it first, probably linked from RSW’s blog, but I read it to my husband. See we’re pretty much the opposite. If he had his way, we’d have the white lights and ‘nice’ ornaments. He doesn’t mind the hand-made and kid ones, but draws the line with kitsch. He rolls his eyes every year when, as he’s stringing the lights he comes across the lone chili pepper light cover. But the one that just maked him shake his head at me is my light up USS Enterprise D. Apparently Star Trek and Christmas just don’t go together in his ‘white light’ world.

But, thankfully, he understands my need to have all my Christmas memories out on the tree and puts up with it. Until January 2nd anyway…

20. jandrewmorrison - November 30, 2006

DinT:

What now?

With an indictment only a few months away, I no longer have a candidate to work for, and Hillary may actually carry Texas (based on the results of the ’06 election) despite you “helping” her campaign….

Do you have a second choice candidate, I hear that Duncan Hunter is already gearing up…

21. jandrewmorrison - November 30, 2006

btw:

My favorite ornament is the Hallmark special edition Muhamed Ali that my cousin got me. Nothing says Christmas like a Muslim-American icon in boxing gloves and shorts.

22. Dave in Texas - November 30, 2006

With an indictment only a few months away

Um, indictments came down earlier this year. Member? Ronnie shopped grand juries.

Perhaps you meant “trial”.

You did say one time you worked in the “legal profession”, right? Did I remember that correctly or am I just making it up?

anyway, candidate of your choice if you get a conviction.

23. citizenkan - November 30, 2006

Greetings Dave!

I was just browsing through some of my old bookmarks when I fell into The Crap Tree. Best read all night.

24. Dave in Texas - November 30, 2006

Hi ck. Thanks for stopping by.

And thank you everyone else who came by to read, and comment. I’m gonna float this one a while. It’s pretty much me and my Christmas.

God bless you and keep you all.

25. Wickedpinto - December 2, 2006

One more observation about the “Crap Tree.”

When my parents got divorced, my father (a piece of shit in many ways) fought for money, my mother fought for posession of my, and my brothers gradeschool ornaments, and the one “marital” whatever the spelling ornament, and many other emotionaly valuable items from the marriage.

I’m born from two lunatics, one is a money grubby F, the other is an emotional wreck.

It’s a difficult ballance keeping to keep one from Screaming irrationaly at random moments, and the other from crying irrationaly at random moments.

Still, I love them both, though I don’t like either.

26. Melissa In Texas - December 2, 2006

That is a truly wonderful story!
I followed you here from AOS and MRWC.
I may not always post, but I check by every day.
You have more readers than you thought!
I must say, the “department store” trees are lovely, but I am more of a crap tree person myself.
A couple of years ago, we tried a thematic tree – it failed miserably!
I inherited a motorized Santa Clause (from my grandmother) that stands about 2 feet high, holding a light. His arm moves back and forth waving the little light. My kids call him the evil Santa. For some reason, they will not allow me to display him at our house.
He goes to the office with me every year.
BTW, Wickedpinto: We cannot “choose our family”.
Makes our choices in friends all the more important!

27. Retired Geezer - December 3, 2006

Is that you momotrips?

28. Kyrie - December 20, 2006

Dave,
I linked to your crap tree story on my family blog When I can’t not write and my Mom printed it out to read to the rest of the family on Chrsitmas eve. We have a tradition of having our own family ‘Christmas program’ every year with each person contributing something by way of a story, song, poem, whatever. Just wanted you to know that the Crap Tree story will join the annals of the Baxendale family Christmas program.

It’s almost like making the big time….only not. ;)

Merry Christmas to you and yours Dave!

29. Dave in Texas - December 20, 2006

Awww, I’m part of your family Christmas folklore?

I’m humbled beyond my ability to describe. Thank you.

God bless the Baxendales, and bring you joy and peace this Christmas. Make merry, and enjoy. And thank you.

30. If you’re Xmas shopping for Dave in Texas « Think Tankers - December 21, 2006

[…] That’s right. That’s a Hello Kitty Fender.  It’s just the thing I’m sure he’d love to see under his tree. […]

31. Retired Geezer - December 22, 2006

We didn’t put up our Crap Tree this year because we’re spending Christmas with Flyin’ Brian and his Fiance. She’s a ‘nice tree’ person but I’m pretty sure our training has survived and Brian is still a Crap Tree kind of guy.

Thanks for the memories.

32. bo ure - December 22, 2006

You win.

33. DarElvis - December 27, 2006

Boudreaux: You can not fully appreciate the CRAP Tree until you really see it for yourself. Little did I know about this entire project until I opened my mouth at your house and said “Wow, I love your tree. These are great ornaments”. I think Pat thought you put be up to it… but, alas, she took one look at me and noticed I had my usual “innocent” (or ignorant) look and knew right away I was being sincere. It is definately a guys tree. I’m looking for the t-paper. Wouldn’t that make great garland for the tree? Thanks for sharing.
Until later………. the journey continues…………

34. Love this post « - November 27, 2007

[…] The Crap Tree, by Dave in Texas For the record, I’m a white light person, SoHoS is a colored light person. […]

35. countramblings - November 28, 2007

I gotta tell ya Dave, I’m A white light guy but there’s something really special about these.

36. sharry - November 29, 2007

well it looks like a very interesting tree I don’t think its crap some very interesting things on that tree very original tree I’d like to know how he made some of those things on his tree like the things in his tree and How it was made please let me know thank you

37. Fra-gil-e Lamp Lights « The Hostages & rosetta - December 1, 2007

[…] about that movie put me in a Christmas mood and when I read that Dave was putting up his Crap Tree™, I went searching for that must-read-every-year story (my traditions may be slightly strange, but […]

38. The Crap Tree « Innocent Bystanders - December 2, 2007

[…] The Crap Tree « Dave in Texas […]

39. count - December 6, 2008

Thanks again Dave.
My third anniversary of visiting this post before Christmas.

40. The RFH Crap Tree is up! | Bring the heat, Bring the Stupid - November 29, 2015

[…] is a tradition here of reading Dave in Texas’s classic Crap Tree post or usually the Innocent Bystanders re-post. (Miss you, Michael.) The house renovations that were […]


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