On the first day of Christmas, my grandson gave to me a slice of cheese on the tree …

On the first day of Christmas, my grandson gave to me a slice of cheese on the tree …

I’m a solo Christmas tree decorator. That’s the way things started out. As the youngest child as soon as I was big enough I was given the task.

Well, it was solo until I met my current husband. He didn’t like it a bit when I got busy and put the lights on the enormous tree his home allowed.

From then on I’ve had to share. His chores now include putting up the tree and arranging the lights. And he gives advice as he passes by once in a while.

Of course our daughter helped, but she was more interested in the concept than the work. And now my grandson has taken over.

Caden is now the solo decorator. My husband’s jobs still haven’t changed, but mine did almost before I realized what was happening.

Caden has a mind of his own and I should have realized that he would want to put his own stamp on this year’s tree. It’s his first tree to decorate. Last year we had a tabletop tree with almost no decorations. He was only 3 and we knew he wouldn’t be able to leave it alone.

He’s been talking about this year’s tree since he planned his Halloween costume. He’s shown me pictures of lovely trees on the internet. He was quite convincing as he told us that he was big enough for a big tree this year. And he wanted candy canes on it.

They went up as soon as the lights were on. After he went to bed they came down. He just couldn’t leave them alone — I understand, it would be like decorating a tree with chocolates for me.

I have to explain that our tree went up in two stages. Late in the afternoon of the Saturday following Thanksgiving Tom found the box with the tree. Putting it together takes quite awhile with figuring out which branch goes where and then twisting the green branches this way and that in an effort to make them resemble a real tree.

And then the lights went on and finally Caden’s candy canes.

By this time the living room was too dark, even with the tree lights, to see to decorate it. Besides Tom hadn’t found the boxes of decorations.

By Sunday morning we were ready to go. It started out that I would take a decoration out of the box, put a hanger on it and hand it to Caden. I would advise him to move around a little bit, after all there’s a lot of tree to do.

This worked really well for about five minutes. Then Caden decided he could put his own hanger on each one. Soon I was directed to a chair at a distance and even lost the right to hand him a wire hanger for an ornament.

I gave directions. “You have three red ones right next to each other.” Or “Put a few along the bottom.”

I quickly decided that it would be easier just to wait until he was doing something else and make the adjustments.

This all went well until I decided it would be a great idea to put on some Christmas music. Johnny Mathis had barely uttered a few words when Caden was clapping his hands over his ears. “I don’t want to hear that!”

Then he ran into the bedroom and shut the door. I turned down the music and left it on.

Soon he was back trying to put more stuff on the tree. “Could you turn it down so it just sounds like ‘la, la, la?’” he asked, demonstrating what he wanted with a soft voice. I did.

After Caden had finally lost interest in decorating — at least an hour later — I noticed that he did add a few things he thought the tree needed.

For instance, I’d allowed him to pick out a new train and a wagon filled with toys for the tree. He put them on the tree, right next to each other, cardboard backing and all. That made sense in a way because they did have the cutout areas that were perfect for hanging on a branch. When he wasn’t looking I did change a few things.

Finally, he carefully arranged several wrapped slices of cheese. When Caden wasn’t looking I snatched up the ones I knew about and returned them to the kitchen. Tom already had three or four slices I hadn’t seen him nab off the tree.

And then came the acorns. A cute idea, but not practical … Caden was wearing a pair of jeans with many pockets and he pulled acorns out of each one and carefully tried to get them to lie on various branches. That worked well for the cheese slices, but the acorns just kept rolling off.

Then after a trip to the grocery store and the park, Caden returned to add the finishing touches to the tree. This time Tom saw him help himself to some mini cupcakes. He followed him into the living room and sure enough he added them to the tree.

Thanksgiving’s yellow and orange didn’t do much for the predominately red and green colors. I didn’t have to get involved with removing the mini cupcakes. Tom did all of that, even providing the necessary explanations.

I’m sure other things will come and go on the tree between now and Christmas, the only thing I can be sure of is that my days of solo tree decorating are over for a very long time.

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