Tinsel Tradition


To tinsel or not to tinsel, now that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of The Wife’s unhappiness all because tinsel was placed on the family Christmas tree is not.
When Mr. Shakespeare penned the famous soliloquy from Hamlet, it really had nothing to do with garnishing the family tree. But there is a right and wrong way to decorate one, and I should know. Somehow I’ve found the wrong way each year. Guess I have a gift. Just ask The Wife.
So what are the correct steps to follow if you’re going to use tinsel? Well, Dear Reader, for that timely yuletide answer, just read on.
Before any decorating can begin, one must first pick the correct tree. Not too tall or too short. Not too skinny or too fat. If the wrong tree is bought, tied to the top of the car, and eventually dragged into the house, it will just as quickly be dragged back out, tied to the top of the car, and delivered back to the tree farm where the tree man will simply laugh at you and point to the sign that states, “All sales are final.”

Once home with the correct tree, it must stay outside for a day to let the limbs open and any loose needles drop. The fact that it has already spent its entire life outside, is now dead, and any loose needles were surely blown off during the road trip home will not help you in your argument to bring it in sooner. Trust me, I’ve tried for over fourteen years.
The next morning I always fight off giant spider crickets to retrieve tree lights and decorations from our basement. You say you’re basementless? Check the attic or the bottom of one of your closets. Chances are the lights are probably there – along with a large family of festive spider crickets.

Wrapping six strands of lights around every branch usually takes me all afternoon. You’d think being proactive when it comes to tree decorations is a good idea. Nope, after dinner, we unwrapped the same six strands of lights that I had done while The Wife was at work. We discarded four of them and spend the rest of the evening carefully placing lights. After all, lights aren’t supposed to be seen when they aren’t on. Next up comes the annual throwing of the tinsel. Or so I thought.
Ornaments are placed on the tree next and in a certain order. If you were wondering, it seems my randomness isn’t the correct order. The least important ornaments are hung around the bottom half, and the most important ones are strategically hung around the top half. If it’s important, sentimental, and made by a family member then that ornament gets special attention and hung with a light just above it.

Finally the tinsel throwing can begin. Nope, wrong again. Just like throwing globs of tinsel randomly on The Sister while we were growing up was unacceptable, so is throwing globs of tinsel this year on our tree. All tinsel was removed, placed in the garbage, and then taken from the house so the cats wouldn’t eat it. After all, on Christmas day, a tinsel covered hairball is not a gift I want to receive from one of our cats.

It seems The Wife doesn’t like tinsel on a tree after all. When she was growing up, someone insisted every strand be placed by hand, then after Christmas each strand had to be taken off and saved for the following year.
Who was so particular about the tinsel? I’ll just say it was Santa. That way I won’t suffer any of the slings and arrows that may come my way from a certain family member.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is storiesbyrick@gmail.com. His books are available at www.RickRyckeley.com.]