That horrible time of year is approaching. That time of year where unwitting people knowingly invite a killer into their homes. I am talking, of course, of the Christmas Tree.
When I was in high school, my family would bring a twenty to thirty foot killer tree into the house and place it at the corner of the stairs. By “my family would bring it into the house”, I mean “my friend and I” would sacrifice skin and sanity and blood to force the tree in. These trees were always extremely difficult to get into the the house. They would often fight tooth and nail to avoid being brought into the house, striking at eyes, groin and throat to try to escape. When we had finally subdued the tree into the stand using ropes and bribes, a female family member would invariably mention that it looked better with the other side facing forward. My friend and I would then spend the next hour or two receiving minor lacerations turning the tree at the behest of family members until fury and frustration would cause us to yell “it looks fine the way it is” and leave it in a final position.
My last Christmas tree was in 1997. I was married and my wife wanted to get a Christmas tree so we could celebrate like a family. Since that time, I have become somewhat convinced that Christmas trees share a consciousness and they are angry over the harm to their brethren. We bought the tree, took it into our home and the tree silently waited. My wife forgot to put the tree out for the trash men to pick it up while I was out at sea for a few days. When I came back, there was the evil thing, plotting its revenge. Many other sailors in my group had a similar problem with the disposal of Christmas trees. We decided to have a party at a house and make a bonfire to get rid of the trees. I took my dry, angry tree out of my trunk and walked it over to the bonfire. To this day, I don’t know why I chose to lay the tree on the fire instead of throwing it. The tree, seeing it’s chance, burst into flame instantly. I wish I was making this up. Now I don’t mean that the tip caught fire and then I laid the rest on the fire and had a nice cup of cider. I mean that, in the course of a second, the tree burst into flame like it had been soaked in gasoline. I am certain that I had ancestors who were not afraid of fire. There is a reason they are all dead now. I made a manly sort of noise that sounded like ‘EEEEEEEEK!!!’ and flung the flaming tree into the air. As I am sure you know, if you throw a conical shaped object into the air, it comes down point first. This angry tree made one last ditch effort to spear me and sent exploding sap flying at my face. All of it missed me, either because of my cat-like reflexes or supreme cowardice. Because my friends were drunk, all they could remember about fighting fires was “Stop, Drop, and Roll”. They started rolling the flaming Christmas tree around the yard with rakes, trying to put out the flames. Eventually, we cleared the yard of idiots, small fires, and misplaced flaming trees.
This brings me to my real point. Christmas trees can burst into flame very, very quickly. To protect yourself from fire, there are a few steps. Online, you can find a variety of methods to keep the tree fresh. Most involve trimming an inch or so off the bottom of the trunk, and keeping the tree watered using a water and crushed aspirin mixture. Make sure that you use Christmas lights that are rated for the place you are using them. They should have something on the packaging. I would recommend using lights that are “UL” rated as that means that they have been tested to comply with American electrical standards instead of the standards for other countries.Don’t use indoor lights outdoors, or outdoor lights indoors. Make certain that tinsel is not touching any Cristmas lights or the connection at the base of the light. Use an “arc-flash circuit interrupter” (AFCI) or, at a minimum a “ground fault circuit interrupter” GFCI to plug in the lights. Don’t leave the lights on while you are asleep or away from home. Lastly, if you are going to have a Christmas tree in your house, make sure you have a fire extinguisher that is charged and ready to use. Have a pleasant Christmas, and don’t forget that the Christmas trees hate you.