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December 06, 2012


I keep a baseball bat tucked away under the bed on my side. Aside from a chainsaw and a few knives, it’s about as far as my arsenal goes. The thinking is, if somebody breaks into the house, I’ll be awakened by the sound of the alarm or the barking of the dogs or both. I’ll snap to, realize we’re under attack, then roll out of bed, grab the bat, and charge into the fray, ready for clobberin’ time. It’s not a great plan, and it’s not made any better by the fact that I’ve never rehearsed it, as evidenced by the events of several nights ago. 

I was awakened by the sound of an immense crash from downstairs, followed by the barking of one of our dogs. The other one was apparently on a smoke break. I snapped to, as per procedure, realizing nothing but that the dog was barking and that something loud had just jarred me out of my sleep, like an explosion or a boulder smashing through the back door. I rolled out of bed, thinking that somebody was breaking in, but I must not have really believed it because I forgot all about the bat. I just ran out of the room, down the stairs and flipped on the light in the living room where I found an enormous tree laying on its side, surrounded by a puddle of water and shards of broken glass in a variety of colors. The goddamn Christmas tree had chosen 1:00 AM to keel over. 

I don't know why, but in my sleep-addled state, it occurred to me that I had a mission. Not only did I have to get this tree back up, but I had to do so without awakening anyone. I had to do it all by myself. So without even bothering to put on a pair of slippers, I walked over to the tree and grabbed it by the trunk. It took some grunting and heaving, and it's a wonder I didn't get glass stuck in the bottoms of my feet, but I got the bastard upright again. Unfortunately, when I eased my grip, it became immediately apparent that the fucking thing was just going to fall right back over again. 

I’m using a lot of curse words to refer to the Christmas tree. I’m aware of this. I realize now that it’s not the tree’s fault it fell over. The fault is mine for putting such a huge tree in a sub-par stand. Still, standing there in my living room at 1:00 in the morning surveying the mess scattered all over the floor, the fireplace, the nearby furniture that’d caught the swipe of a few plummeting branches, I was pretty pissed. 

Thankfully, the noise had also awoken my wife. She came downstairs a minute later and promptly directed me to put some shoes on. It took us an hour, but we got the tree back to its upright position, the water toweled up, the loose pine needles and broken ornaments all swept up and thrown in the trash, the survivors set aside to be re-hung at another time. The best part? Besides the fact that the kids stayed asleep the whole time? We managed to get through this little catastrophe with clear heads. No raised voices, no edgy tones, just a shared let’s-get-through-this-shit attitude. I was rather proud of us. 

The next day, I went down to Home Depot and bought the strongest tree stand they had to offer. Hopefully it won't try to escape again. 


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