Sunday, December 9, 2012

Entry #65 - Yuletide Warm-Up

Dear Diary, 

     The holiday season is upon us once again, and with it my general disdain for the entire season. We already knew my heart was three sizes too small, but it becomes more apparent at this time of year, more pronounced. Nothing gives me a twitch quite like hearing "Feliz Navidad" or "Mary's Boy Child" for both the 1st and the 87th time. My feelings about Christmas are perhaps best summarized by the fact that I enjoy spending a large majority of Christmas Day participating in The Drunken Christmas Nog Tub. Nothing says "tis the season" like a spinster drinking alcohol AND milk products alone in the bathtub, no?
Spinster/Grinch heart. 

Conversely, my friend Vanessa loves Christmas. If Vanessa could send a Valentine to Christmas, it would be one of those awkwardly gigantic ones; handmade, handwritten, covered with gold glitter, spritzed with perfume, and sealed with a lipstick kiss. She loves it. She loves it the way only a mildly-OCD perfectionist individual can: in a colour coordinated, Martha Stewart, pre-lit kind of way. 

Vanessa's husband Scott, however, seems to feel much the way I do about Christmas: bored disinterest mingled with a hint of disdain. I can't say for certain how he feels as he is an elective mute most of the time; this conclusion is based on many years of close observation of his facial expressions, unintelligible mutterings, and air punches/kicks. Long story short, Scott refuses to help decorate the tree or dismantle the tree. He will, however, haul it to and from the basement every year which is significantly better than nothing. Sometimes he also deigns to download Jingle Cats for us to listen to, which is significantly worse than nothing. 

For the past three years, I have assisted Vanessa with her beloved Christmas Tree(s). There is a strict colour scheme, there is an order in which the ornaments must be hung, there is a deep and compulsive need for everything to be just so. I still help her. This is all the proof I will ever need of the depth and breadth of my love; it surpasses the show of love that was massaging her legs and feet for two hours when she was in the hospital, but I digress...back to Christmas...
This is Vanessa's kitchen tree, which stays up year round and changes decor with the seasons. 

This year the lights on Vanessa's pre-lit tree bit the dust. Scott brought it upstairs, we plugged it in, and about 1/3 of 1/3 of the lights turned on (picture that fraction puzzle, 1/9th?). And so we began looking for a new Christmas tree...

  The Quest for the Replacement Christmas Tree made the Quest for the Golden Fleece look like a trip to the grocery store to buy milk. I can safely say I have now looked at every Christmas tree in the Greater Victoria area, and even a few in the western communities. I have pictures of trees on my phone, I have felt them, I have stared at them in contemplation, I have stuck my head inside them. I am all about "accepting approximations", in the words of my friend Kim "it's not good, but it's good enough"; other than some Chinese food once (and a boyfriend here and there), this motto has rarely led me astray. Vanessa does not subscribe to this school of though, as proven by the many and varied ways she found trees to be lacking, which include, but are not limited to:

-too short
-too tall
-wrong colour
-feels weird
-only one kind of branch
-too sparse
-not enough tips
-not enough lights (at least 100 per foot of height, or so I have learned)
-too thin
-LED lights (alien lighting)
-correct lights, but with an unreliable lighting system (which happened to be on a tree that was otherwise perfect)
-too ridiculous (my idea of buying two of the slim trees she liked (other than the slimness) and adding them to her existing tree to create a "Forest Tree-umvirate of Power" - I still stand by this idea)
-too expensive (just kidding, that does not exist to Vanessa)

Somewhere around mid-November it became apparent that Vanessa's search for the perfect Christmas tree was, much like my search for the perfect man, proving to be frustrating, disappointing, and fruitless. Vanessa finally conceded defeat:
"We will just have to buy lights and put them on the tree I have..."
"No problem, buddy," I reply "that'll be easy!"
"...right after we remove all the lights the tree came with"
    Getting in the spirit of Christmas by stripping the tree of its by one. 
 That's right, we had to "un-lit the pre-lit". Imagine all the weaving, clips, and zap straps it takes to attach multiple strands of lights to a imagine trying to UNdo them. I think it took around four hours in the end, which included the creation of some colourful swear words on my part and thousands of microscopic paper cuts all over our hands an arms. At one point about half my body was in the tree as I searched for the reason the strand I had been working on had split into three strands. There was no logical answer, but scissors were a satisfying alternative. 

If this process didn't assure my dislike of Christmas for years to come, the FOUR trips to Canadian Tire to get five sets of working lights sure did. Standing in line for our second exchange of the day, Vanessa noticed that the guy in front of us was buying the same lights that we were. 

"You should probably open those up and have her(the cashier) test them...some of ours were faulty, and some were coloured lights in a clear lights box. This is our third trip here today."
He opens them up, and sure enough, coloured lights in a clear light box.
"AH!  SEE!? You're WELCOME !" Vanessa shouts.

I think it was around this point that we ran into Katie B's friend Andrew and his lady friend, who were probably drawn to us by the level of noise we were producing. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to him for the long-winded, maniacal rant we may have gone on about Christmas lights. 

In the end, I must say that the living room tree is pretty spectacular. Then again, so are the pyramids...which were also built by slave labour. Coincidence?
Vanessa both in and under the tree, seeking perfection.


Spinster Aunt Jam Factory

Production at the old jam factory is winding down, and to be honest it makes me pretty sad. Almost everything has been canned, labeled, and packaged...I am worried I need to start thinking of a new hobby, you know, aside from spending time with Vanessa and blogging about my many inadequacies. The end of Jam season also means that I have to cut down on my television intake. I managed to watch seasons 1 & 2 of MI5 AND quite a few movies(*cough*Thor*cough*) while making the jam, and now I have been watching seasons 1 & 2 of Homeland during the labeling and wrapping process. Thanks Anna for recommending that show to me, it's a good thing I don't care about eating, sleeping, or going to work, or I'd be really mad at you for getting me hooked on it.

So, if I call you at home, Spinster Aunt Jam may well be arriving at your doorstep soon. I make no guarantees, I mean, no one has gotten food poisoning so far. Just to be safe, maybe you shouldn't eat it if you're pregnant, nursing, or if you drive heavy machinery.

Maybe it wasn't my best choice to give this to the people I love.

Bitterness is sweet. 


  1. Dear Hannah - please, please watch Duck Dynasty's christmas episode (Matt thinks episode 13?) for similar tree trials and tribulations, you will appreciate it ;) xo

    1. On it!I love it when they subtitle the deep south dialougue!

  2. Vanessa needs one of these.

    Those labels are AWESOME! I would eat blueberry lime jam, yum!

  3. Ohhh Hannah, I've been eating the apple pie jam for a few days now and it is making my life!