The 2013 Holiday season has been very good to me and mine.  It hasn’t been without it’s ups and downs.  2013 will be remembered by my family as the year of the stinky Christmas tree.

It started out like any other enjoyable Christmas season.  The day after Thanksgiving our family headed out to the Boy Scouts tree lot for our annual trek to get the centerpiece of our holiday celebration….the Christmas tree.

We were rewarded for our efforts, immediately, by a Frazier tree standing close to the entrance.  It looked perfect for us, but one can’t be too sure.  All of the trees must be inspected for our critical perfection factor.

After determining that, yes, it was our “perfect tree” we headed out of the tree lot with Christmas cheer in our hearts.  Reaching home, we unloaded our Christmas tree of perfection, cutting off the bottom and setting it in a bucket of water. All the while, rubbing our hands together with anticipation of decorating it the next day.

What a splendid tree!  It didn’t suffer from the “oops it’s too big for our space” syndrome that other trees have had the displeasure to receive in the past.  It was the masterpiece of God!

We decorated it with gusto.  We pulled out ornaments which brought back many Christmas memories. Some hadn’t seen the light of Christmas for many years!  At the end of the decorating party we sat back with much satisfaction in our hearts.  Nirvana of Christmas trees had been achieved!

A few days later, Nirvana began to take a nasty turn.  Quite literally, in fact.  At first it was just a small puff of stench that only my delicate blood hound nostrils could sense.  About the same time, I came down with a horrible case of the intestinal flu.  My much loved chair sat right next to the perfection of all trees!  Could that smell be my imagination from all the time I had spent on my hands and knees giving homage to the great porcelain one?

I knew I wasn’t imagine things when my daughter asked me ever so nicely, “Mom, did you puke on the tree?”  I felt vindicated in a perverse way…someone else could smell it, but a little miffed that she would think I had done that to the tree.  Being the ever happy grandma, I had entertained our grand son and his cousin for a few days before my illness.  Could one of them spilled milk somewhere around the tree and my chair?

The hunt was on.  I spent time on my knees looking like a blood hound, sniffing here and there.  Thinking that milk had spilled and gone sour, I became an avid carpet sprinkle and febreze junky.  Nothing was working!  The only thing that had come out of that was I had bolstered the economy of the makers of smell eradicating products and the smell was worse!

Fast forward a few more days.  I can’t sit in my chair any more.  The only good thing is, we had pinpointed the smell to our tree.  Our son from Virginia arrived with his family.  Time is ticking away and my pressing thought is, “how am I going to entertain the whole McAdam clan on Christmas Eve with a stinky Christmas tree that has left the whole family room smelling like a Roman Vomitorium?  Yikes!

Finally, the light bulb above my head flashed on!  I must Google it!  A short time later, I had my answer.  It was the sugar in the water surrounding the Christmas tree.  Sugar in the water has been a time tested procedure we have used to keep our Christmas tree looking good for the entire season.  According to a helpful web site, the use of sugar when mixed with a bacteria on the trunk of the tree, or left in the tree stand from a previous year, can make the tree water incredibly stinky.  Vomit and stinky feet were mentioned. Well, duh…why hadn’t I thought of that!  The website said to replace the water with fresh water mixed with a little bleach.  Not to be out done, we decided to use Tea tree oil instead.  After all, it has disinfecting and healing properties.   Wrong answer for Christmas trees!  The tree definitely smelled better, but we killed it!  Almost overnight the tree began to turn brown and needles and branches began to fall to the floor.  Hang in there baby…Christmas Eve is finally here.

What a fabulous Christmas Eve!  Everyone was in rare form.  In a true Griswold family tradition we were going to enjoy Christmas…no matter what happened.  We had grand babies to enjoy and the fun meter reached maximum overjoy!  Only a few heads turned toward the decaying tree as larger ornaments made a noisy retreat to the bottom of the rapidly defoliating tree.  We were going for “the greatest Christmas memories ever”….and we succeeded!

A few days later, after all our company had departed, I was left to contemplate our poor tree.  The drifts of branches and needles had reached inches deep.  Turning the lights on had become an act of complete trust in the protection of angels.  I began to take off the ornaments and lights. For once, I was thankful for my eyeglasses as the tree exploded the dry needles toward me. I reflected on my Christmas experience.  Christmas isn’t the prefect tree, decorated to the hilt.  It isn’t all the trappings of the holidays with expensive gifts.  It’s the love that fills our home at Christmas.  Having said that…I must say to all those who had shared their experiences with smelly trees online.  Bless you!  If it hadn’t been for you our Christmas might not have been as joy-filled.  Because of you, instead of the persistent smell of vomit in our nostrils, our holiday was punctuated by the smell of cinnamon, the laughter of people who love each other, and the joy of children experiencing Christmas for the first time!

2 thoughts on “The Saga of the Stinky Christmas Tree

  1. This story is hilarious and in true McAdam form! I saw a quote this holiday season that said, “It’s not what is on or under the tree that matters, but who is around it with you.” Sounds like you all have that figured out already. Much love!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *