The liquor store was closed that Sunday.
I was doing pretty good until I got to the last strand of lights, which burned out AS I WAS STRINGING IT.
Some people have a Christmas tradition of bundling up and venturing out to pick out a live tree.
In our family, where some of us are allergic to evergreens, we have a different tradition: the annual fluffing of the tree.
Every year, when our fake tree comes out of storage, its branches are all bent and smushed.
Every year, I painstakingly fluff the branches of the tree so that is looks, well, less fake.
This year’s fluffing was accompanied by a spot of emergency tree repair, in which I managed to fix a drooping branch using a giant lime-green rubber band.
MacGyver comes for Christmas.
We use the same Christmas ornaments every year. The oldest ornament belonged to my grandmother. It’s a little plastic birdcage with a spinner inside. When hung near an old-fashioned Christmas light, the heat from the bulb turns the blades of the spinner.
Of course, now that we have converted to LED bulbs, our Christmas lights don’t give off heat anymore, so we just have to blow on the spinner.
There are painted wooden ornaments that I made when I was a little girl, and a Christmas mouse with a pipe cleaner tail, and a Christmas spider with pipe cleaner legs, made from a Styrofoam ball and red sequins.
(I have no idea why I made a Christmas spider.)
There is a blue sequined star, one of the ornaments I bought when I was finally grown up enough to have my own Christmas tree.
There is a Santa ornament made from an oyster shell, which my husband and I brought back from a Thanksgiving trip to the beach.
There are at least a dozen “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments that we received after our daughter was born, including a a cross-stitched angel made by a dear friend.
And there is a multitude of ornaments crafted by my children: A snowman made from Popsicle sticks. A wreath made of jigsaw puzzle pieces. A Santa made from a paintbrush. A candy cane made from red and white beads strung on a pipe cleaner.
(What would Christmas be without pipe cleaners?)
There is a string of purple Mardi Gras beads that somebody hung on the tree several years ago, probably as a joke, which we keep hanging every year because now it’s a tradition.
Once the ornaments are hung, the tree is draped in vintage tinsel garlands (my mother never threw anything out) and a faded construction-paper chain.
My son and daughter alternate who gets to put the star on top. My husband used to hoist them up so they could reach the top of the tree. That part of the tradition has changed.
And you know what? You can’t even see that lime-green rubber band anymore.