Monday, December 3, 2007

Death by garland

This weekend I went to my mom and stepdad's house to help with the Christmas tree. I absolutely adore Christmas. I love the music, I love decorating, I love the fresh smell of a real tree, I love Christmas lights, I love baking, I love buying things for other people, I love cold Christmas mornings with sparkling snow, and mostly I love the warm, friendly chaos that comes from a house full of people who mean the world to you all rushing around getting supper together and presents wrapped and trying not to kill one another.

Naturally, when my mom asked if I wanted to go help, I jumped at the chance. Because this is the first year my mom and stepdad will spend actually living in the same house, it's going to be a bit weird. I figured by helping decorate, it will help me to feel that much more at home over the holidays. Plus, since my ex and I broke up I haven't decorated my own place. She was also cuckoo for Christmas and it's just not as fun putting up a tree and decorating all by myself.

When I got to their house, my stepdad was hanging decorations around their sunroom and the tree was all assembled. It's the kind that comes with the lights already in there to make life easier. Mom and I started with the garland. THREE HOURS LATER we finished hanging it around the tree. "What happened?" you may ask. Were we interrupted? Was there a tree-falling-down catastrophe? Did we construct a gingerbread village in there somewhere? Oh no. It was all garland, all the time for those three hours.

You see, my mom doesn't like the usual tinselly garland that most people use on their trees. She thinks it looks tacky. (Yes, Mom. Because none of our other Christmas decorations are tacky. Here is an actual ornament we hang on our tree every year:)

One year she made my sister and me string popcorn and cranberries but that didn't work out as well as she had hoped. We used frozen cranberries and when they thawed, the colour bled all over the popcorn, turing the whole thing into a bloody mess. Also, our cat like to eat it. So one year my mom found this looooong string of silver beads that was to be used for garland and ever since that year, we've had to deal with the Law of Garland Attraction (or Death By Garland).

Fig 1. This is what the garland looks like in its resting state. (Clearly I am still traumatized by the whole incident, because this should be labeled Fig. 1, not Fig. 3.)

Did I mention this fucker is LONG? Because it is. And as long as the string is not touching any other part of the garland, life is fine. However, it's not so easy to wrap garland around a tree when the string is stretched across the living room, out the front door, down the road, and along the highway on its way to Vancouver. This means that you have to wind the string around your arm or neck or body or something. And so begins the Law of Garland Attraction - AS SOON as this particular type of garland touches any other part of the string, the silver balls are so attracted to (or enraged by) each other that they must get all twisted up. See Figs. 2 and 3:

For the result of this twisting, see Fig. 4:

For the result of the dreaded garland knot, see Fig. 5:

My stepdad kept poking his head into the living room and saying one of the following:

  • Are you two still untangling?

  • I can't believe how long that's taking!

  • I can run to the store and get a different kind, if you want.

  • You guys are crazy.

We just snarled back and kept on untangling. We'd get a nice length all sorted out and work on another section, only to have the first section end up in a knot. At one point my mom remarked that we must be the only people in the world who used that garland more than once. I think she's probably right. She has vowed to find something nice and simple for next year but I'll believe it when I see it. In the meantime, I'm going to enact my revenge by ending with a final picture of a beloved, not-at-all-tacky decoration that ends up in a place of honour every year.

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