This coming Sunday is Gaudete Sunday, which in our house is nicknamed "The Sunday we get to put up the Christmas Tree."
This is the first thing we do that annoys some die-hards who insist that the tree should never, ever, ever go up before Christmas Eve (and preferably not until after Midnight Mass). The second thing is that we use an artificial tree.
I've never been all that great, from an allergy perspective, with live trees in the house. For me, it's not so much the tree itself as the various molds and pollens they collect when they're growing. We also found out that Bookgirl can't be around live pine without sneezing, watery eyes, and general misery, so we're pretty much destined to have fake trees at Christmas.
I know this is heresy, but--actually, I prefer them to live ones. I know, I know! How non-crunchy non-authentic Made-in-whoknowswhattyrannicalregime plasticky overly-commercial can you get?
It gets worse. I like them for three main reasons: one, you don't have to water them (and have all that fun involving both water and electric lights). Two, you don't have to practically bolt them to the floor to keep them from falling over. And three, even though the plastic ones shed a bit of plastic here and there, it's nothing compared to the mess of showers of tiny un-vacuumable pine needles scattering mysteriously all over the house.
How shallow is that? I like artificial Christmas trees because they're easier and less messy. Cheaper, too, in the long run. Don't anybody tell Rod Dreher, though, or he'll revoke my unofficial "Crunchy Con" membership. ;-)
We may have to shell out a little money this year. The fake tree we have now is the second we've owned (it wasn't worth moving the first one from North Carolina to Texas, and buying a pre-lit tree cut down on a lot of pre-Christmas cussing). We bought it at Montgomery Ward. Which then closed (the physical store, not the present online retailer) in 2001, which gives you an idea of how many years that tree has been stored in a Texas garage through the heat of three-quarters of the year.
When we used it last year, it was looking a little--bent. And scraggly, from being set up and put away so many times. And just a little rickety, which wasn't a problem since the girls are long past the toddler let's-all-pull-on-the-tree phase.
And this year, we have a cat, for the first time ever, so our thinking is that we need something a little smaller, a little thinner, a little easier to control once Emmett discovers the excellent scratching-post/climbing toy we've put up just for him (because when you're a cat, all celebrations are always all about you).
Naturally, having reached this conclusion we promptly forgot all about it until this week, when we realized that this Sunday was Gaudete Sunday and thus our traditional day to put up the tree and decorate it in preparation for Christmas. Luckily, our procrastination will likely pay off, as there are lots of fake trees left in our local stores and frightened retailers are slashing prices on them because they certainly don't want to be stuck with them come December 26th. So in that sense we're doing all right.
We've also decided to decorate a little more sparsely this year, to keep the china and glass ornaments off of the tree and go for a lot of paper mache or other unbreakable ornaments, instead. But I'd really like to ask all the cat owners who read this blog--what do you do with the Christmas tree? Are there any tips or hints that some novice cat owners ought to take to heart, lest they find their cat dangling by his hind legs from a tangle of lights and glittery paper snowballs?
I'm open to any suggestions you experienced cat owners might have--unless they involve buying a live tree, of course. :)