It was never our intention to be a two-tree house. Sure, we knew that a nice big tree would look lovely in our front, street-facing window. But it wasn't exactly high on the priority list. The "real" tree, the tree we'd chop down ourselves and celebrate Christmas morning under, would be in the den, off of the kitchen. And so it was, last year, on our first Christmas in the Big Yellow House. All was right with the world. For a few weeks, anyway.
On December 22, 2007, a Saturday, we were frantically preparing for our family's Christmas party. I don't remember exactly what I was doing, but rest assured it involved last minute cooking, cleaning, gift wrapping, kid bathing and a whole lot of last minute hurrying, in general. Earlier in the month I had purchased a beautiful, big, white poinsettia plant from Home Depot. As I do most years, I tweaked it to my liking, decorating it with whatever sparkle-y holiday fare from Michael's struck my fancy, and used it for a kitchen table centerpiece. In my maniacal gift wrapping, child dressing craze, I had forgotten to return the poinsettia to its place of honor on the table, which had become wrapping paper central, and so it sat on the corner of our kitchen counter for the night, while we were out partying it up with 40 of our closest relatives and Mr. Claus himself.
When we returned home, I brought the little guys up to bed. One had fallen asleep in the car and the other required some slight coaxing and "rocking chairing" to return him to his previous state of slumber. Mike headed into the kitchen to do some post-frenzy clean up. When I came downstairs a good half hour later, a found Mike frantically wiping down all flat surfaces in the kitchen, with a look of disgust, mixed with...."I don't flippin' believe this"on his face. Mike turned to look at me and the first words out of his mouth were, "Thank God you didn't get here first." What? Did I miss something? Mike's eyes were darting all around the room as he told me what he walked in on....
He had begun clearing off the kitchen table when something caught his eye.....a web. A spider web. Between the pendant lights over the kitchen table. A spider web with spiders ON IT. Many spiders. MANY MANY MANY spiders. all the size of a "." Then, another web, from the pendant lamp to the very top of the poinsettia plant. The poinsettia plant, covered in mini-webs. And then, as his eyes followed the plant to the lights, the lights to the ceiling, an entire ARMY of them. Marching in line, all the way down the center of the living room. Some had paused at the ceiling fan, creating yet more webs and others had moved on....to the Christmas tree. Thousands and thousands of tiny, brand new baby spiders. Calling our Christmas tree their new home. About 48 hours before Santa's due arrival.
It took hours to clean up the disaster. All in all, the spiders had made it over twenty feet away from their nest. All the while fanning out in different directions. The tree had to be bagged and thrown out. The same fate awaited the garland that had decorated the cabinet tops. And the damn poinsettia plant, that I had had my hands in and out of so many times while intricately positioning my decorations, that got the boot right out the back door. The poor kids woke up to a scene straight out of the Grinch. Someone had stolen Christmas! We called Home Depot first thing the next morning.
I listened while Mike explained what had happened. Yes, we bought a poinsettia plant from your store, yes it housed a nest of unhatched baby spiders. Yes, the spiders hatched in our house and infested our living room, kitchen and ALL of our Christmas decorations. Yes, we still have the plant (for evidence, just in case). Yes, we'll be right down.
As soon as we got to Home Depot, the woman behind the customer service counter called the manager we had talked to on the phone. He came down, found out who we were, shuddered just a little bit and said, "Give them whatever they want."
Now, I like to think we didn't abuse the situation, though I do believe we deserved to abuse it. We picked out some garlands to replace the ones we had to toss and then it was time to grab a replacement Christmas tree. Of course, Mike had already told the manager, in no uncertain terms, that his wife would NOT be allowing anything further from the Home Depot gardens into the house. So naturally, we went with an artificial tree.
And you better believe we picked out the biggest, most expensive one they had. It looks perfect in our front window ;)
So, we are now a two-tree family. One artificial and one real. It's been very nice having the two trees. One more for "show" and the other for all the usual, sentimental reasons.
We are also now a strictly artificial poinsettia family. But really, can you blame us?
Wishing you all a wonderful, spider-free Holiday Season! See you in '09!