Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Adhering to the proud American tradition of destroying as much nature as possible whenever presented with the opportunity to do so, it's always been understood in the McHanslaw family that two Douglas Firs are to be felled on any Christmas tree cutting voyage.

The first - a towering, robust, symmetrical beast of pine-borne largess - is to be the center of the family's Christmas festivities over the coming weeks. It's where lights are strung, ornaments are hung, presents are carefully placed, and where we all come together on the evening of December 25th to remember the day some 2,000 years ago when Santa Claus was chased up a pine tree for his beliefs by three apostles in a manger made out of rock salt. Praise be to Claus.

The second tree - a diminutive, sparsely populated, undernourished, dilapidated blackhead on Mother Nature's carefully manicured pores - has generally come to be known as the "requisite Charlie Brown tree", a reference to a former servant at the McHanslaw manor (and a tragic figure at that), not the beloved "Peanuts" character of the same name.

As an aside, if I were to name a tree after a Peanuts character, I'd pick one with really curly needles and name it Schroeder. Then I'd put a miniature grand piano in front of it. Then I'd wait.


This was to be Requisite Charlie Brown 2008. It's a bit healthier than I would have liked, but I assure you that it looked incredibly sick when I originally cut it down. Perhaps it solicited some sort of masochistic, life-affirming pleasure out of being felled.

Regardless, at some point during the past 5 years my family switched from being a group of people who owned 2 Christmas tree stands to being a group of people who owned 1 Christmas tree stand, so I had to figure out a way to make a legitimate piece of Christmas decorum out of this Requisite Charlie Brown tree without just leaning it up against a wall (though I must admit that in retrospect, leaning it up against a wall would have been a pretty awesomely nonchalant solution to my problem).

I lacked both the lumber and the ambition to fabricate a stand from scratch, but what I didn't lack was a closet door with a bathrobe hook on it:

Closet Door

Being that I suffer from occasional bouts of contrived creativity, and being that I had really been dragging my feet on part two of last week's Reagan post so I needed something quick and easy to fill in the ever-growing gap in Good Rubbish content, I decided to hang my tree upside down.

I thought this process would take about 1/16th of the time that I ended up expending to make this somewhat lame idea into a reality, but that was before I realized that I needed a way to provide water to the tree while it was hanging upside down, otherwise I'd be left with nothing but a pile of dead needles below a dangling stick come Christmas morning.

As awesome as that might have been, I decided to try and devise a water source anyway.

Cup 1

A rarity in my world, my first idea ended up working perfectly well. I took an x-acto knife and cut a hole in the bottom of a fairly thick plastic cup (far more robust than the red Solo cups I'd become so familiar with during my 5 year bout of post secondary education), then jammed it down over the end of the tree. After that, to seal the gaps between the cup and the tree trunk, I slathered some aquarium sealant around the bottom of the cup, creating a totally hardcore and radical watertight seal:


After allowing the glue to dry overnight I just wrapped the trunk with some twine and hung it from the aforementioned bathrobe hook. I poured some water in the cup at this point to check the seal, and sure enough it didn't spill a drop.


Over the course of the 2 days that have passed since I took this photo, the water level has dropped down below the trunk of the tree. The floor below the tree is bone dry, so I can only assume that the tree is in fact drinking up the water despite its abnormal gravitational orientation. Exciting, I know.

As you can see in that last shot I did decide to put lights on the thing, but Christmas lights really don't work all that well on upside down trees, as the branches are all condensed and streamlined instead of being stretched out like they are on a right-side-up tree. Really, it looks a lot more like a flavor saver made out of pine needles than the top of a tree, but whatever.

I wrapped the lights around the trunk only (they just fell off when I tried to put them on the branches), then just left the excess in a big pile at the bottom. That's just how I do Christmas lights, alright? You got a problem with it, then take it up with my biceps which I have cleverly nicknamed "Gabriel" and "Kaplan," respectively. Educating Sweathogs is just what they do.

Lights 1

Lights 3

Happy Holidays, oh proud flag bearers of my dwindling readership! Happy Holidays indeed!

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