I started off this morning dreaming about Andre The Giant. Not kidding. Andre and Hulk Hogan were running outside of a building, much like the one in the final scene of Commando. Just as they hit the sidewalk, Andre grimaced and slowed suddenly, reaching around and grabbing at his lower back. In my dream, I remember thinking, "Wow this must be how Andre got his bad back, I'm watching it happen." Andre stumbled forward and reached one hand down to support himself on the hood of a cop car. Hulk Hogan came over to see if he was okay. Andre tried to stand up, and then began to fall backwards in slow motion, with a long drawn out slo-mo groan bursting from his lips, "Aaaaarrrrggggghhhh!"
I never saw Andre the Giant hit the ground, because at this exact moment I was awoken from my dream by a crashing sound from the living room. "What the fuck was that?!"I yelled none too politely, but I knew the answer before it came. Please let it be a drunk driver who had just crashed his car into the front of my house. Please let it be a plane that crashed into my back lanai. Just don't let it be what I think it is. "The Christmas tree just fell over."
You see, here's the deal. All through the Air Force and living in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and back to Massachusetts and then down here to Florida, I've always "gone home" for Christmas. Back to Rochester, NY. I've never actually celebrated Christmas in my own fucking house; I'm always the guy in from out of town for a week. Last year I decided enough was enough, I'm staying in my own house for Christmas this year and while my door is open to all who want to enter, I'm keeping my fat ass here. And so for my first Christmas, I made myself a promise of pulling out all the stops. And so I went out and bought The Tree. It was eleven feet tall, but it's down to ten and a half now after some trimming. And it was perfect; healthy, straight, full, symmetrical, no bare spots, smelled nice, the whole smash. It cost twice as much as the same tree up in New England, but hey that's the cost of living where the coconuts grow. Anyway, in the back of the pickup it goes and after a little struggling I manage to get The Tree up and balanced.
And when I say balanced, I mean fucking perfectly. This is one of those things I'm OCD on; I mean this motherfucker was dead God damned center and straight up and down as a fucking arrow. (Yes, I'm starting to get pissed off again). Right after I had it set up, I briefly considered using some fishing line to secure it, but after a few test shakes with no hint of a lean I decide, "Nah, it's perfectly balanced, why bother?" Yeah, we'll revisit those fateful words in a minute. Anyway, I get all the ornaments out of the attic. Bought a new tree skirt. Went out and bought 1,000 energy saving white lights (incandescent, I think the LEDs look like shit). I put it altogether and it looks FUCKING TITS. I mean perfect. Martha Stewart would swing by my house to drop off some mashed potatoes and say, "Goddamn!" And for the next six days I baby this tree. I always keep the two gallon water basin full right to the brim. Always mix in some of the tree food they gave me. I sang to the motherfucker as I was hanging the fucking ornaments. I even let it watch television past 9pm. Yes, this tree had it fucking made.
So I don't know if I subconsciously heard the tree slowly falling over and it manifested itself in my dream as Andre the Giant, or what the fuck. All I know is I went from pleasantly sleeping to gorilla rip shit angry in 0.000374 seconds. I hope the fuck out of bed and make my way into the living room before flipping the lights on. I had kind of hoped for a fucking miracle like no it leaned towards the wall and things weren't that bad, but no such luck. No this motherfucker was flat on the floor, lights all fucked up and hanging off, ornaments scattered and broken. Oh, and that two gallon reservoir? Yeah I topped that off last night like a good little boy. So of course all the pine needles that fell off the tree in the crash are floating around in the small lake in the middle of my living room floor.
I repeat: Mother. Fucker.
So I go put some fucking shoes on because there are shards of glass all over the place and try to lift this motherfucker up. And the plastic stand slides on the tile floor, so now I'm just sliding it around the fucking place like a dog trying to lick a plate clean. I didn't think it was possible to get angrier than when I first saw the tree on the floor, but I was wrong. Now I'm fucking ballistic. And in my ballisticness (yeah that's a new word) I decide that I'm going to stand this motherfucker up or die trying. So I reach down under it for that extra special nice grip, right down to the soggy branches that have been soaking in spilled water for the past five minutes and I hoist this motherfucker for all I'm worth. Up it goes a little, so I have to step forward to get leverage. CRUNCH. I step on an ornament and it crushes beneath my sneaker. Fuck. But I'm going to get this tree up, God dammit. Hoist some more and step into it... CRUNCH. Another fucking ornament. You have got to be fucking kidding me. So yes, I had to step-crunch-step-crunch this fucking tree all the way back up into the corner, leaving a wake of footprint shaped glass bulbs smashed into the carpet behind me. This is fucking awesome.
So I get the fucking tree back up standing and leaned into the corner where it's safe from falling over again. It's rotated a bit so the 'front' is facing to my left, but that's okay at least it's not falling. Now I get to survey the damage, and again, can one get angrier than sliding a fallen wet Christmas tree around the floor? Yes, yes they can! Carefully placed strings of lights are now hanging and drooping all over the place like Tara Reid's stomach. And how the fuck strings of lights can get so fucked up from simply falling over, is beyond me. A few candy canes managed to hang on but most lie at my feet in ruins. I have to chase Ike away from one and yell so loudly that he doesn't come out of the bedroom for an hour. Which is just as well truth be told, because there were tiny shards of broken glass fucking EVERYWHERE. Again, I marvel at how everything can get so fucked up from just tipping over. The whole fucking thing was trashed. Oh by the way, my hands, my shirt and my pajama pants are now covered in pine tree sap. This is fucking awesome!
It's at this point that I realize that if I get any angrier, I'm going to stroke out so I go into my office and post that little blurb you read earlier. I really thought doing so would calm me a down a little but alas I was wrong. When I got back into the living room I started to kick the shit out of stuff, sending four of five empty ornament boxes flying across the room. I'm not sure how that's going to play out when I have to take the ornaments off the tree and store them for next year, but I'll let Future Ernie worry about that one.
It takes half an hour to get all the water, pine needles, broken glass, and little metal hooks relatively cleaned up. Now I'm slowly starting to calm down and can focus my attention on the tree. My poor tree. It's facing away from me like a woman trying to hide her black eye. I bear hug it and spin it so the 'front' is now facing outwards again. I slowly and carefully let go and to my surprise it seems content to stay leaning into the corner. I step back and take a better look at it. In addition to all the lights being fucked up, a lot of the branches are bent or broken too. I'm fucking pissed. My perfect tree is buttfucked. I'm going to have to start from scratch and tear all the lights and remaining ornaments off and start over. I turn to my left and take two steps towards the stepladder and just as my hand reached the bottom rung, I hear a familiar CRASH! You know, like the sound Andre the Giant makes when he falls backwards after hurting his back. That's right, the motherfucking tree fell over -- AGAIN. Suffice to say that with the assistance of more expletive than you have ever heard in your life, I got the fucking thing standing back up in the corner again. Plus another half an hour spent cleaning up. Again. This is fucking awesome!
Now it's tree stand time. I step back a few paces to get a general idea of which way the tree of leaning, so I know which screws to tighten. Satisfied with what I've got to do, I lay down on the floor -- still quite damp and with more than the occasional pine needle I might add -- and slide under the tree to take a closer look at the tree stand that has apparently failed me. I reach to turn the screws and am quite shocked to find they're ALL LOOSE. I am instantly faced with two possibilities. One, fucking terrorists have broken into my house and loosened my Christmas tree stand screws, or following the basic laws of biology the tree's trunk is shrinking as it dries out. And I'm keeping the water reservoir full of course, but there's no way that's going to keep a tree as hydrated as a healthy root system would. So yes, as I'm laying down on my very wet floor, hands and shirt sticky with tree sap, with wet branches dripping water on my fucking head, I discover this is all my fucking fault. Awesome.
Blah-blah-blah, I get the tree centered and screwed down again. And this time I secure the motherfucker to the corner with some 20lb test fishing line. Dig out the fucking 12' stepladder again, and spend the next two hours removing all the fucking lights I had so painstakingly put on just two days before. Coax a few bent branches back into place with more fishing line and get all the fucking lights put back on. Salvage whatever ornaments I can and get those back up and the tree looks like it might have a shred of holiday spirit left in there after all. I'm going out now to buy new ornaments. Lesson learned: as you're topping off that water check those screws too, because the fucking terrorists are attacking our Christmas trees.
If you're looking for last minute stocking stuffers and you have Prime (or don't mind paying for 2nd day shipping) then Amazon is still doing $10 off Kershaw knives. Also, a wrapped 12 pack of beer isn't a bad idea either. You've most likely seen these brands as you walk by the beer aisle but how wildly popular these brands are might surprise you. Ranked by their market share, here are the top 10 most popular beers from around the world and as you might imagine, the US's contributions are rather underwhelming.