Friday, December 7, 2012

Julekuler

Last week I was overcome by the strangest urge. I wanted to buy an artificial Christmas tree. Given that the smell of a fresh Christmas tree is one of my favourite things in the world, this was a rather odd  feeling to have. But the appeal of having the lights already attached, no possibility of a repeat of our leaking tree episode of a few years back, and not having to clean up thousands of needles shed by a tree that wasn't quite as fresh as advertised suddenly seemed irresistible.

I floated the idea by Jay and Alexandra. Well, floated is really the wrong word since it never even got off the ground. There was no discussion. No weighing out the merits of real vs. artificial. They just looked at me like I had suddenly morphed into the Grinch Who Wanted To Steal Their Tree. Clearly this is not going to be the year of the big changeover.

Regrouping, I tried to figure out why I wanted an artificial tree. This was about the same time Fergus and Jenny were going through one of their crazy spurts, chasing each other around the house like the feral creatures they can sometimes be. Suddenly I had my answer! This was going to be our first Christmas with Fergus in the house. We did have Jenny last Christmas, but that was back in her uncorrupted pre-Fergus days. All I had to do last year was make sure I hung the decorations out of her reach. This is not a difficult task when your dog is a miniature dachshund.

Once I identified the problem I was able to come up with a plan. My plan is this. Not a single ornament of value, sentimental or otherwise, will grace this year's tree. The ornaments that do go on will all have to be located more than three feet off the floor (Fergus is a very good jumper). They will also have to be classified as "not lethal if ingested" due to the fact there are no guarantees that in a house with a cat that the ornaments we put on the tree will actually stay there.

It seems silly to spend money on a tree that is going to be left practically naked, so I phoned Kellen. He said he and Anita would love to go out and find us a tree in the bush. He warned me that it might only be four feet high and have eight branches, to which I responded, "Perfect!" That would give us a good foot that was out of Fergus's reach to work with as far as decorations, and since the number of ornaments we are going to put on it has been greatly reduced, eight branches sounded about right. Maybe even excessive.

I wish I had figured all of this out earlier. I would have made a whole tree full of the Arne and Carlos Christmas balls. As it stands right now I have knit two. One was mailed to Rebekah to help fill her apartment in Korea with some Christmas cheer. The other one is staying here, and unless I can get a couple more knit between now and December 25, this may well be the only ornament on our 2012 tree. It meets all of my qualifications. It is not breakable, it has no sentimental value, it didn't cost a fortune, and if one of the dogs manages to eat it I won't have to call poison control. (Which, as an aside, I never once had to do when my kids were little, but have had to do twice since Fergus entered our home.)

Julekule, from the book 55 Christmas Balls to Knit.




Have you switched to an artificial tree? Or are you a staunch traditionalist and still putting up a real tree? I would love to hear your thoughts.

32 comments:

  1. you made me laugh twice! i love your wry sense of humor. (translation: humour) :)

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    1. Laughter is good. And thanks for the translation. :-)

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  2. LOL. OMG. I love it. I wish I knew Fergus in reality. He seems like such a HOOT. I hope you get more ornaments knit up for your tree. :-D

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    1. He definitely isn't lacking in personality (maybe a bit in manners though). I hope to get a couple more knit, but have a few other things lined up ahead of them. It could be a very bare tree!

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  3. We do an artificial tree because everyone is allergic to real ones. Yankee Candle makes a Balsalm scented candle that smells pretty realistic, which helps give the room a good effect. I was thinking this year as we put the tree up that I'm glad the jack russell terrier puppy who lived with us on the way to her forever home wasn't here during Christmas time. Terriers are jumpers, which is well-known, but not really understood until you have a dog like your Fergus or my Maggie in the house!

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    1. Oh wow. A Jack Russell and a Christmas tree might be an even worse combination than a Westie and a tree! Isn't it amazing how high terriers can jump? Nothing is safe here, not even when it is on the table. :-)

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  4. Absolutely a real tree, in spite of my husband's allergies. It just wouldn't be Christmas without vacuuming up needles and checking the tree's water supply every day. And the fragrance! Sorry, Susan, I just can't believe that a candle could do it justice. Of course, we don't have any pets at present...The first year that we had our late lamented German Shepherd, he nibbled the wrapping paper on one corner of a gift under the tree, but that was the extent of the dog damage.

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    1. Your German Shepherd must have been especially well-mannered! As far as checking the tree's water supply every day, I fear we fail in that department. And I don't think we are much better about cleaning up the needles. I was still finding stray ones this summer hidden in places like the basket that holds library books. That basket is quite a ways away from where the tree sits. They must have fallen in it when we hauled the tree out post-Christmas.

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  5. Growing up, some of our trees came from the nearby woods. The imperfections made them special. My wife and I started with real trees, went artificial for a few years, and circled back to real. The past few years we've been saying every year that it's "the last year" for a real tree--mostly because we have expensive tree tastes. We've pretty much got the real tree process down to a science, so getting it in and out of the house isn't such a big deal. And we are very lucky, Bandit has never shown any interest in our Christmas trees. Not even when he was a puppy.

    When it's time for the tree to come down, I place a large sheet on the floor next to it. Once out of the stand, the tree goes onto the sheet and (as much as possible) I bring the corners of the sheet near the bottom of the tree together and drag it out the front door. Very few needles escape along the way.

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    1. That's interesting that you have gone back and forth between real and artificial. Thanks for the tip on getting the tree out of the house without a mess. But you forgot to give me your tip for how you got Bandit to ignore the tree!

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  6. We all love a real tree, however we have looped carpet that needles stay in for six months or more, and two indoor cats that LOVE anything green (to eat. and then puke up). We do artificial. And I won't apologize for it :) Chika (the dog) is uninterested in the tree, like he is with most things that aren't human or his string ball. Only non-breakable ornaments on the bottom branches because they will be batted off by the cats (they're too lazy to climb, they just like to sit under it and bat at anything in paw reach).

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    1. I'm starting to feel ashamed reading about all the dogs who ignore their human's Christmas tree. It's nice to know at least your cats are somewhat misbehaved. :-)

      And I can see how looped carpet and a tree would be a very bad mix. Our carpet is not looped, but needles still manage to get stuck in it.

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  7. The first year we had Finnegan he chewed a bunch of ornaments up. Only when we weren't in the room of course...He was smart that way. We have an artificial tree and honestly there is something nice about putting up the same tree every year. I guess you get attached to it in a way. Since we normally go away it was either artificial or no tree.

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    1. Thank you Jennifer! I was beginning to think I had the only badly behaved dog. That is so funny he would wait until you left the room before he would go after the ornaments. Did Finnegan stop eating them once he was past the puppy stage? That's my hope for Fergus, that by next year this won't be an issue.

      And thanks for saying that about getting attached to your artificial tree. I hadn't thought about that happening, but you are right. There would be something nice about putting up a familiar tree each year.

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  8. Oh My! Now you've gone and added ableskiver to things I must make very soon - I think blueberries and a touch of maple syrup may be the way to go. Yum Yum!

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    1. Maple syrup would be wonderful with aebleskivers. I think I am going to try that next time. Instead of rolling them in sugar I will dab them in some maple syrup. It would make them a Danish-Canadian fusion dish. :-)

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  9. I have the black version of Fergus, a naughty but sweet 6 month old Scottie called Maggie. I'm doing an artifical tree this year because I like the lights already in place and it isn't as heavy as a real tree, in case it gets knocked over (how could that possibly happen?). The top two thirds are sparsely decorated but the bottom third is empty! After the tree was up we started with the jumping up and grabbing at whatever she could reach and progressed to putting her teeth into a branch and trying to drag the tree across the room. Fortunately, things have settled down but I'm always watching and waiting.
    I love to read your Fergus blogs. They give me hope that things might get better. These naughty-but-sweet Scotties and Westies do have the best personalities, don't they?

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    1. I love Scotties! If you get a chance you should email me a picture of your Maggie. I would love to see her! Your description of sinking her teeth into a branch and trying to drag the tree across the room has filled me with terror. I hadn't considered that possibility, but now that you mention it I can see Fergus doing the same thing. :-)

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  10. The first couple of years Daisy was around......we had a full size, artificial tree.....I have a collection of clear glass ornaments and slowly all the ornaments moved up higher in the tree until the bottom two feet was bare.

    Then we switched for a few years to cheap wooden type ornaments one year, a tree full of fake poinsettias another, it got rather expensive even at the dollar shop!

    Then I did a tree full of little teddy bears when Lackie showed up - HE LOVED THOSE TEDDY BEARS. It was the worst thing I could have done because he loved to try and get those little bears LOL!

    So now I have a 4' high, fake tree - it sits on a table in the dining room - it is totally full of my glass ornaments with red plaid ribbon garland and I LOVE IT!!!! It doesn't take long to put up (or take down) and it goes in a box, it isn't messy, it doesn't make me reorganize my furniture to fit it in......

    of course we really aren't big Christmas people - just a few small get-togethers with friends - but I do love my Christmas tree!

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    1. Ha! I am laughing at the thought of Lackie going after the little teddy bears. So much for that plan! Your solution is a great one, but you must not have a cat. If I put a tree on top of our dining room table Emily would have it down on the floor for Fergus and Jenny to finish off the minute I left the room. :-)

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  11. I'm afraid we have an artificial tree for about 20 years, it has lasted well but is not quite the same. We have adopted all our animals so they are been after the puppy/kitten stage and we haven't had a problem. Our previous cat used to enjoy bashing one of the ornaments that we put at the bottom of the tree just for her.
    Sarah x

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    1. Yes, adopting older dogs would have helped with the tree problem. And that is my hope - that next year when Fergus is past his puppy stage we can cover the whole tree with decorations, not just the top half!

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  12. Very rarely dto I put up a tree (I'm not a grinch...really...I'm just normally in the field for the weeks before xmas and so wonder what the point is!) but when I do, it's always real...but cut ourselves. But then again, I don't have pets right now so don't really understand those challenges. I would like to see a picture of you 8-branched barely decorated tree though! ;)

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    1. I will try to remember to get a picture of everybody standing in front of it on Christmas day. Although, if I do our traditional picture the tree might not actually show up. I might have to have everyone stand to the side this year. Or kneel down. :-)

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  13. Real tree all the way. I just dislike artificial trees so much, I am sorry to say. Once, only once did I let my ex talk me into using an artificial tree back in Florida, but I hated it so much, never ever. The Hungarian tradition is tpo put up the tree only at the 24th (then leave it until jan 6th...at least...I remember having a Xmas tree way into march), and in Miami it was a challenge to go and hunt for a tree on the 24th, by then we usually got it for free. As the result of my Miami years I still love and try to buy douglas fir, but for some reason it gets more difficult each year.

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    1. I think putting up a tree on the 24th is what most people used to do. That is why people could light candles on the tree on Christmas day and not risk burning the house down. Do you buy a tree or go get one from the woods?

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  14. I get a real tree of a sort/top etc, but quite small and set it up on the ledge in the bay window. Don't know if a table top tree would work against Westies.

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    1. A table top tree would be at risk from our cat. And actually, Fergus has managed to get up on the dining room table when a chair was left pulled out, so even there wouldn't be guaranteed to be 100% dog proof! A bay window would be a nice spot for a tree. It would look nice from the outside too!

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  15. I'd love to have a real tree but I have no desire to pay emergency vet costs for Kai the cat, whom will insist on chewing the poor tree up. She's already pushing her luck with our fake big & table top trees.
    Only in my dreams can I have a real tree. I think I would just walk into the living room for the smell alone.

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    1. Having pets sure changes the the way we do things. I'm glad you found a solution that works for you and Kai. :-)

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  16. Miniature dachshunds (stubby legs) are definitely an advantage when thinking of annual Christmas tree safety! I can't get ours to stay off of the tree skirt though. In fact, I'm on the third tree skirt since we started collecting doxies and they've managed to chew the little red faux berries off of the current skirt (which has a holly motif). I haven't had an actual gift under our tree in years. I have used artificial trees for a long time but just three years ago finally purchased a pre-lit one. It is WONDERFUL. I buy a candle for the pine scent.

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    1. Oh dear. I hadn't even thought about the presents. We probably won't be able to put ours under the tree either. And thanks for the warning about the tree skirt. I think we will leave that in the Christmas box, safely tucked away until next year!

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