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Jeruba's avatar

Have you had a memorable Christmas tree disaster?

Asked by Jeruba (55574points) December 16th, 2017

I had a near disaster with the first Christmas tree I ever put up on my own, alone in my Cambridge apartment.

By myself and without a car, I bought a six-foot tree and rolled it home a couple of miles in the snow on a two-wheeled suitcase cart. I bought a tree stand with three metal legs, strings of lights, a bunch of inexpensive Woolworth’s ornaments in boxes, and a dozen special ones chosen singly at Jordan Marsh.

I’d almost finished the whole tree-trimming exercise, trying to do everything according to tradition, and was feeling pretty well pleased with myself, when I just had to hang one last course of silvery icicles near the top. Standing on a chair, I lost my balance and fell into the tree. The whole thing went over, with me tangled up in it and the tree on top of me. One of the stand’s metal legs bent so sharply that there was no way to set it back up while I crawled out and recovered.

Somehow I managed to get my foot under the trunk, keeping it from going completely down. Nothing I could use as a prop was close by. An empty ornament box was across the room, just beyond my reach. I strained for it with every inch of my body. Just as in one of those escape scenes in a movie where the hero drops the keys, I stretched as hard as my body could possibly stretch. After maybe ten minutes, I finally caught the edge of the box with a fingernail and flipped it toward me.

Then I maneuvered it down to my feet and pushed it under the trunk to prop it up.

When I crawled out from under, I had to just sit and breathe for a while.

From this distance, decades later, I’m still not sure how I salvaged that tree. No Christmas tree mishap since has ever come close, even with pets and little kids. But it turned out all right in the end, except for a bunch of icicles that lay sideways on the branches instead of hanging up and down. One glass ornament broke, and that was it.

All the Woolworth’s ornaments (except one, saved as a souvenir) have been phased out since, but I still have the “special” ones and use them every year. I’ll be hanging them tonight.


Tags as I wrote them: Christmas, Christmas trees, holiday decorating, minor household catastrophes.

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19 Answers

canidmajor's avatar

About 40 years ago a friend and I rented a little house in the woods east of Seattle, in the foothills of the Cascades. Being very hippy and self-sufficient (so we believed) we went into the woods and cut down a Christmas tree. Probably illegally. We brought it in, managed with a great deal of ineptitude to get it mounted into the base, then we decorated it, mostly with charming popcorn garlands, pine cones, natural things from around the property that had some color. We each had a young retriever, and the dogs were fascinated by all of this.

The next night we had a big Christmas party, and with all the people, and the fire in the woodstove, it was warm enough to leave the door open. Some wild thing came in and sheltered under the tree for about two minutes until the dogs discovered it, then the creature took off, dogs giving chase, dragging the tree, having thoroughly entangled themselves in the lights and decorations. The dogs came home that night, but we didn’t find the tree until late the next day, about a half mile down the little dirt road.
The landlord (who was at the party) was really pretty understanding about it all, and replaced the broken window and battered doorframe quickly and without too much fuss.

ragingloli's avatar

Ours melted once.

Zaku's avatar

Yes, a few. They all involve kittens attacking decorated trees in the middle of the night, falling trees, and broken ornaments.

kritiper's avatar

Not a disaster, really.
After years of trying to get old light sets to work, and having to throw them out one by one over the years, our family finally got to the point where we had one string of lights on the tree with 5 working bulbs.
The next year Mom bought 2 new sets of 30 bulbs each, and I found the cash for 2 more 30 light sets of the same kind as Mom’s.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Not a disaster, but an annoyance and a lesson in tree species. A group of us was way up in the Michigan woods in November, and we decided to take Christmas trees home. A friend has a cabin and we could take trees off the property.

We cut down trees. We felt like lumberjacks. Legends.

Later we all talked about way the trees quickly dropped their needles. When everyone went to bed, you could sit in the glow of the lights and listen to the “pik pik pik” as the needles fell. After a week, the tree looked scrawny and scraggly, like Charlie Brown’s Christmas.

I still feel like a bad-ass though, for marching into the woods and sawing down my family’s Christmas tree and taking it home on the roof of my car.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s funny @Jeruba! I could see it all, like a scene in a movie! It wasn’t at the time, but from this point it is!

Yours was funny too @canidmajor! :D :D :D.

I have not one Christmas tree tragedy to share…

jonsblond's avatar

My husband poked his eye with a needle from the tree when he was putting the lights on. We spent the night in the ER and he had to wear a patch for 3 days. The pirate jokes got old quick.

flutherother's avatar

One Christmas when we were kids our parents sent us out to the woods with a hacksaw. It was cold and frosty and the light was failing already but we got a tree and brought it back. Money was probably tight but we were too young to notice. We spent the evening in the warmth wrapping silver foil round the branches and hanging ornaments and fairy lights. It was a memorable Christmas, though it could have been a disaster.

ragingloli's avatar

I was made of plastic and had an electric heater next to it.

marinelife's avatar

Well, those of you who have been around here for a while know that I am a major arachnophobe. Imagine my horror when the heat caused the nest of baby spider eggs in our Christmas tree to hatch one year!

marinelife's avatar

@ragingloli Thank God, it was not quite that bad, but bad enough!

chyna's avatar

Refusing to look at @ragingloli‘s link.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Me too @chyna. I never, ever look at @ragingloli‘s links. Never.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Exploding Ornaments.
Homemade dough ( 1 cup flour, one cup salt and ½ cup water) painted and decorated nicely and uniquely made.
The next few days and on Christmas Day the string of lights lit up was serene until each ornament got to hot beside the Christmas lights and expanded then exploded!
All we could hear was this popping noise and then an explosion of each one after another shattering in chunks across the living room carpet!
We learned the hard way ONLY USE HALF as much salt as it drys the dough quickly and beside a hot light it will expand.

Dutchess_III's avatar

This is too much you guys! I feel so left out!

Jeruba's avatar

@ragingloli, that is truly impressive. It way tops the time that we thought a “living Christmas tree” would be a great idea…and it was, for one year. After the holidays we parked it in the yard and watered it until the following Christmas, and then cheerfully brought it in to trim—thereby disturbing the ant colonies that had moved into the pot and multiplied. A few minutes’ chase with a vacuum cleaner as the hordes streamed out onto the living room carpet, and I capitulated (screaming). I don’t mind spiders so much one at a time,but I hate, hate, hate ants.

After that, only dead trees for us.

That still only rates as second-worst near disaster.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I remember vacuuming up pine needles for weeks afterward, clogging the vacuum cleaner.

Ants are good little guys Jeruba! They tell you where you need to clean on your kitchen counters!

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