10 Reasons Why Assembling a Fake, Pre-Lit Christmas Tree Will Suck the Life Out Of You


1. The stupid box it comes in.

As soon as you dump the various sections of the tree out of the shiny, new box, you might as well throw the box away. You are never going to get all of the tree back in that box. And as the years go by, you will be able to stuff less and less of the tree into the issued receptacle. This means that the “too big” sections of the tree risk being shoved behind something in the attic and never being seen again. Just get a bigger box.

I do find it highly illogical that what came out of the box will not go back in. It makes sense that it should. Somebody got the tree in there in the first place. Then again, that someone was a little worker in Artificial Tree Land, and this person stuffs trees in boxes all day long. Probably hundreds of them, with a cute little counter that dings merrily every time they seal a box, perhaps even a cookie is served for every five boxes. These workers are certified in tree stuffing. There’s no way you can compete with that.

2. The absence of assistance.

Your entire family can be lounging on the couch all day, watching pointless cooking shows where vibrant personalities whip up delicacies that no one in your house will ever make. But the second any family member gets a warning sign that tree assembly is afoot, every one of them will race out of the house, off to fake dental appointments or opting for that elective surgery after all. You will stagger down the attic ladder, the tree thumping behind you on each rung, to find a completely deserted house. Even the cat has gone on an impromptu sleepover with Tiffles the Tabby down the street.

You are on your own. You will not see another soul until the advance scout in the bushes of the neighbor’s yard has used his walkie-talkie to inform all family members that the coast is clear.

3. Things don’t fit where they should.

Stare at the little diagram all you want, but Point A will NOT fit politely into Ingress B no matter what you do or how much you proffer to Jesus during intense, sweaty negotiations. You will just have to use sheer force of will to ram the piece home, probably completely destroying any chance of the tree ever looking right again. It doesn’t matter. You just have to get through this session. Next year is a long way off. Perhaps there will be a divorce, and somebody else can deal with the violated tree. Or maybe a fire. A very concentrated fire that only destroys a certain bulging box.

4. The concept of “If one light goes out, the rest stay on!” is a complete and total lie.

This is merely an unsavory sales technique developed by retailers who just want to move the merchandise and don’t care what happens to you once your credit card has been swiped and approved. One of the lights WILL go out, somehow affecting most of the lights on the tree, even though there are theoretically 20 strands on this thing. It will take you 7 hours to find this elusive bulb, mainly because you keep losing your place and/or get so frustrated that you kick the tree against the wall, stomp off, break something in another room, then finally give in and shuffle back to The Room Where Satan Breathes, waving a white flag and starting the search all over again.

5. The best way to determine which strands still need to be connected to the power source is to lie under the tree and gaze upwards.

The is actually quite helpful, allowing you to see things from a new and exciting perspective. The negative aspect is that, once you pass a certain age, you may not be able to get back out from under the tree and resume a standing position for some time. My advice is to take a bottle of water and pillow before you head down under. You might be there for a while.

6. One miniscule turn-screw in the tree stand supposedly will keep the tree perfectly aligned.

Another lie. Adjust all you want, loosening and turning and tightening. The tree is never going to stand up without a discernible lean. Accept your fate now.  Delaying acknowledgment of your inevitable alignment failure only increases the chances of an adverse psychological reaction. You still have shopping to do, and you don’t have time for therapy or possible court cases resulting from you throwing the tree out the picture window, accidentally nailing the UPS guy innocently arriving at your dwelling bearing a box of Aunt Esther’s Peanut Fudge.

Just tighten the screw all the way, and then rotate the tree until the angle of the lean is the least offensive. If necessary, hang the heavier ornaments on the side of the tree that is opposite the lean, creating an optical illusion that will hopefully satisfy your less-inquisitive relatives. Better yet, pay toddler cousins to stand inside the branches, hold the tree up straight, and not say a word unless they see Santa.

7. No one is ever fully satisfied with the fluffing.

Yes, the tree has been mashed offensively during its 11 months in scorching confinement whilst crammed into the attic. You will have to do some repair work on the fake needles and smaller branches, even though there are thousands of them and reparative activities are only amusing for the first 3 needles or so. Do the best you can, but don’t overextend yourself in this area. It’s not a real tree. It will never pass inspection by Tree Survey people, should they stop by unexpectedly.

Besides, no matter how much time you invest, there is going to be a gaping, unnatural hole somewhere on the tree. And this hole will be found by Aunt Flatulencia when she and her wrinkled nose stagger into the room, hopped up on brandied eggnog and rum cake. Just let her bellow whatever and keep mopping up the apple juice carelessly spilled by one of your cousin-workers in the middle of the tree. (Take the damages out of the little tyke’s paycheck. He might as well learn now that there are consequences to your actions.)

8. It hurts.

Granted, “real” trees have those aggressive needles that will slice you to ribbons when you attempt limb adjustment. But the fake ones have their issues as well. (Paper needles can be sharp, people.) And if you have a mature tree that has survived several seasons of your devil-inspired chiropractic maneuvers, there are bound to be little clusters of overlooked ornament hangers that went undiscovered during the security clearance last year (just before you shoved part of the tree into the box that’s supposed to hold all of the tree and threw everything back in the attic).

These bits of twisted metal can lacerate an entire hand in a few seconds of stunning savagery. Proceed carefully. If necessary, ask someone that you don’t really care for to do a safety inspection.

9. The creatures of the night.

Most cats consider Christmas trees to be their personal playground, refusing to acknowledge stern warnings from you that unappreciated feline merriment could result in a severe adjustment of treat privileges and continued living. Your furry children may pretend to behave whilst you are in the vicinity, but they will immediately launch at the tree the second your footsteps seem to be fading away. For a cat, there are just too many sparkly and dangly things for them to ignore.

Nighttime is the worst. Things crash loudly and bizarre events take place. You may wake in the morning to find that the Baby Jesus is missing from the manger scene, replaced by a small ransom note with the imprint of a cat paw.

10. You will not be fully appreciated for your efforts.

Once you finally have the tree in order, covered in scratches and dripping sweat, don’t expect a round of applause. Your older children might find the strength to utter “cool” while they continue texting with someone named Boner. Younger children will immediately race to the tree and destroy three of the most delicate and memory-filled ornaments, not understanding that this isn’t what they are supposed to do. (“But Mommy, you made me beat on that pinata for my birthday. Isn’t this the same thing?”)

And your significant other? Well, as is written somewhere, if you put up the tree, then your spouse is most likely a Grumpy Christmas Person. (Rarely do two Happy Christmas People end up in couples, because that would be too much Hyperactive Yuletide Perkiness in one room for anyone to bear.) So don’t be surprised if your partner doesn’t even notice that there is now a dead tree where there wasn’t one just a few hours ago.

But it doesn’t matter. The tree is up and all is good. Now go find that brandied eggnog so you can be prepared when the news comes about the abduction of the Baby Jesus….


(Originally posted in “The Sound and the Fury” on 12/13/10 and “Bonnywood Manor” on 12/25/13. No changes have been made other than the correction of a startling typo that I apparently didn’t notice for 6 years. Because I have focus issues.)


27 replies »

  1. I remember when my mother gave up on the real Christmas tree, way, way back in the day. I was utterly and totally devastated (think horrid teenage angst multiplied by a gazillion christmas points). It fell over on christmas eve, spilling water and needles everywhere and she got my sisters friend to bring home a fake one – a lime green total tinsel ribbon steel rod thing. It is the reasons I now have an aversion to Christmas. My christmas tree of choice now is a triangular steel gold card holder, we wrap tinsel all around it and chuck on a few baubles and that’s it. I hasten to add that when the kidlets were younger I would always have a real, live tree. Now I’m just old an crotchety.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t really remember if we ever had real Christmas trees in our own house when I was little (all I recall are the artificial ones), but I definitely know that my Granny (on my Mom’s side) always had a real one, and her house was Christmas Central. (Mom was pretty good, but it was Granny who went all out and the entire house was awash in yuletide finery.) Granny’s the one who taught me the pageantry, and for many years I followed her path, but in the last few years I haven’t been such a good acolyte, because as you mention, the crotchety sets in…

      Liked by 3 people

      • Yeah, we made decorations (box streamers out of crepe paper) and Mum would figure out the layout and off we’d go. We also had carols at our house every Christmas eve, all the rellies and friends came, and I recall it very, very fondly. Would I do it as an adult, no way in a very frozen hell! But it is one of my earliest memories, and my fondest, of songs drifting across a summer night on the evening before Christmas. I’ve been telling myself for 11 years that I would go out on my back deck on Christmas Eve, late at night and sing – but I never have.

        Liked by 1 person

      • My aunt was the one who used to go all out with the trimmings all around the rooms and so much food you wouldn’t need to eat for days afterwards. As children, it was our favourite place to be. I learned to peel Brussels sprouts at her kitchen table! My dad used to do the trimmings in our house on Christmas Eve – he did them differently each year – so that we would get up on Christmas morning and it would have a real festive feel to it. Now, with shops and tv starting so early with it all, there isn’t the same feel of anticipation, more often dread of the expectation rather than anticipation.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I agree that the anticipation has been greatly lessened with the “holiday season” being extended by months. (One of the Dallas radio stations began playing all Christmas music the second week in November. I do like listening to it, but that’s just too early.) Still, even though I might be initially annoyed, I eventually get completely into it. I can sit and stare at the lights on the tree for hours, with some of my favorite carols on the stereo and perhaps a glass of wine or two, thinking back on all the Christmas memories…

          Liked by 2 people

          • A neighbour down the street put up their lights all along the front of their house at the weekend, blue and white, and a tree in their window, also lit up, and then our next door neighbour put lights in the tree of the back garden, my 3 year old grand-daughter was visiting and she was enthralled. Our sone took her and her toddler brother on a slight detour down our high street on the way home to see all the lights, which are particularly good this year. They loved them. That’s what Christmas is about for me, seeing the wonder and delight on the faces of young children before they get old and jaded and want every electron gadget under the sun! 😄

            Liked by 2 people

  2. A friend of mine has a felt tree she said it was easier to pin cute badges on it rather than get a real one. I do a Christmas mural for a catholic church every year (with a big team). No-one has caught on that I haven’t actually done anything besides cheerleading.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I keep a small artificial one partly decorated in the basement. I just have to uncover it and carry it upstairs and add some ornaments. That’s the point you get to when get of tired of doing it by yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I build I and string the lights. My wife decorates it. My grandson then undesorates and destroys it while his big sister yells “Stop it!” loudly but ineffectually. Christmas trees. Ouch. I saw Eric Idle and John Cleese last night, a gift from my daughter. They closed the show with “(insert bad word for fornicate here) Christmas.” I’m certain it was written for Christmas tree building day and the resulting lack of holiday joy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear ya. I used to get a little crazy with the extent of my yuletide exertions, but that was when the whole family would come here for the holidays. They don’t anymore, long story, things change over time, but my commitment is a notch or two below where it should be. Maybe someday…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My husband is a huge fan of the Charlie Brown Christmas special and therefore believes fake trees are heresy. I say screw it, I’m not dealing with a fire hazard in the living room. Recently I bought a “pencil” tree – have you seen them? It’s six and a half feet tall and maybe two feet diameter. So slim and chic. Best part, there are only two parts to assemble and it’s pre-lit. I’m planning on keeping this baby for as long as I have breath.
    Also, fixing a typo after six years – been there, done that, felt enormous shame at its discovery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perhaps I should look into a slimmer tree. The one we have now (one which takes up half of a backyard shed) is a little much, and getting it into the house (never mind putting it together) is like transporting Rhode Island through the Suez Canal. Still, it’s rather festive when it’s all said and done, so I’ll have to ponder the downsizing angle. (As for the typo thing? This was a GLARING snafu, one that could be seen from Pluto before it was downgraded. How that escaped me all these years I have no idea.)

      Liked by 3 people

  6. We had my great-grandma’s very small fake tree for a few years after we got married, then we bought a bigger fake tree, but when the kids grew up we started buying real ones. Our cat thought we had installed indoor plumbing for her and would leave us her own ‘present’ under the tree. So we stopped buying real trees until she was no longer with us, then we resumed. Last year, as no little children would be around at Christmas, we decided to go treeless. It was heaven. We still put up the coloured lights and we had sparkly twigs in a tall vase etc but how refreshing not to worry about bad backs, carpets full of needles, hours of fiddling with lights that somehow entangle themselves while stored in the garage and then having to find a spare bulb… This week I gave in and bought an 18″ fake lit tree in a metal tub to sit on the small table in the lounge and a 12″ wooden sculpture of a tree, to sit on a shelf in the front room, as the littlies will be here on Christmas Eve. But that’s it, no more trees! But I do miss the smell of pine… and all the homemade decorations… and hanging little treats on it for the children …and I miss our cat.. ohhhhh see what you started now 😥

    Liked by 2 people

    • See, your words at the end are what rope me back in. In my family, we’ve gotten away from so many of our traditions, and the decrease in stress and exertion make things less taxing, but it also explains why the holidays, for me, are not as enjoyable as they used to be. Maybe I need to quit whining about getting old and do something about getting young again… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So, cats and Christmas trees…one morning I dragged my butt home from working the night shift to find the angel missing from the top of my tree. The tree was bent over as if a little cretin climbed to the top. I found the angel decapitated in the kitchen. I yelled at the cat and tried to glue to angel’s head back on with Krazy Glue. I glued it on sideways and couldn’t fix it, so I jammed the freaky thing on the crooked tree and went to bed! Yay Christmas!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I would give anything to see a photo of the Freaky Angel. It sounds like it would make a perfect book cover. Our cats are voracious when it comes to stalking and attacking the innocent tree and sending glittery bits far and wide. To this day, I can move a piece of furniture, for my twice a decade deep clean, and I’ll find an ornament that I know hasn’t been used since 1978…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Brilliant. I loved every. single. word.

    When I was a kid, we had an artificial tree. As the years went by, it was easier and easier to put back into the box because each January, branches would disappear. It was a sad-looking tree in the end…but, like you said, the Tree Survey People rarely came by.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’ve had all kinds of trees over the years, including the metal kind with the color wheel. (And that color wheel could get HOT. You could get second-degree burns if you sat too close to it.) But one of my favorite trees came one year in my twenties (centuries ago) when I didn’t have a lot of money. I managed to get a free live tree, but I only had a few strings of lights and just a handful of ornaments. So I went to Goodwill, managed to find huge rolls of inch-wide satin ribbon, some in a light pink and some in a light purple, for just 25 cents apiece. I then cut the ribbons into little squares and showered them over the tree. It sounds a little cheesy, but the way the lights played off the shiny satin made it really special. You just have to make the best of what you’ve got… 😉

      Liked by 3 people

  9. Did you fall for the pre-lit fake tree hustle? Some sadistic minimum-wage tree trimmer dreams all season of the moment when YOUR middle section goes dark and you can’t find the bulb that needs to be replaced OR get the darned things off the tree during the season (OR afterwards, so that you can simply replace the entire strand for $5.99 at the after-Christmas sale)! So you decide to simply *add* an additional strand and pray that the ornaments will hide the unlit bulbs.

    And because some sadistic liar of a light manufacturer KNOWS that lights only last one year anymore before at least one bulb goes bad and the entire strand goes out even tho’ the box said clearly that would NOT happen, and that you won’t be able to find it because the OTHER dark strand is still glued to your pre-lit fake Christmas tree, so you will add a 3rd, since pink and purple satin ribbon to reflect the light toward the middle of the tree is now $50 a roll – and the beat goes on each year.

    (Oh they are diabolical, these fake tree merchants.)
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s all one big scam, really, preying on the emotions and, more significantly, the nostalgia of decent human beings. On the flip side, I can rest comfortably knowing that I have done my part to keep the economy moving over the decades. We have two mammoth attics in our house, and one of them is completely stuffed with nothing but Yuletide paraphernalia. I also have a huge shed in the backyard, equally brimming with Christmas. I have so many strings of lights that if I ever plugged them all in at one time, the city of Dallas would experience a rolling blackout…


      • No one could expect more of a man, Brian. If the economy collapses they can’t say it was because you did not do your part. You cannot be faulted (unless, of course, you DO try to plug them in all at the same time, becoming responsible for the Dallas Blackout of the Christmas of 2017).

        MERRY CHRISTMAS from me and Tink

        Liked by 1 person

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