The holidays around here put me in the mood for reminiscing, today I’m thinking back fondly on our little family’s first Santa tree.

Before I had kids I don’t think I ever had a single holiday decoration in my apartment – for any holiday. I mean, let’s be serious, I didn’t have any decorations for anything. But after I had Matheson, suddenly Christmas was magical again (see image above). Matty was 5 months old during our little family’s first Christmas season and the memories made during that month will live forever. We decorated the whole apartment – mostly with decorations handed down from my grandma. There were garlands and candles and small ceramic houses. My aunt gave us some old christmas lights and my mom gave us one of her old artificial trees she had been storing in the shed. It was a grand 7′ tree in a worn and tattered box but we were super excited to put it up (and thankful to save the money – honestly, why are they SO expensive?!).

When it came time to put the tree up, Seth dragged the box into the apartment through the backdoor, into our bedroom, through the kitchen and finally into the living room. I turned on the Christmas music and started unloading tupperware after tupperware of ornaments and garlands and lights onto the dining room table. Matty, mostly immobile, lounged in the middle of the room and watched as I opened the tree box and began untangling the tree parts. As soon as I opened the water stained box, I noticed a weird smell. The more parts I untangled and pulled out of the box, the more it smelled. The limbs were covered in dust and dirt and weird clumps of what looked like fur but, overcome by Christmas excitement, I continued to untangle and unpack telling myself it was just a linty concoction. When I got to the bottom of the box, the stench was almost unbearable and there were small unidentified black specks / pebbles. Not well-versed in animal shit, I thought it was just, like, dirt that smelled a lot like wild animal shit. I hollered to Seth in the kitchen and asked if he thought it smelled like something had died in the living room – he just laughed and dismissed me per usual.

Once everything was laid out, I called Seth in to help me put it together. We put the tree stand (which also came with the tree) in place, put in the center piece and started inserting the unfanned limbs. The closer I had to work with each branch, the more curious I became about the stench and the “lint” and the shitty-smelling dirt. We got all 7 feet of the tree branches in place and started to fan them when there was suddenly a loud snap. Before we could even try to figure out what the sound was, the tree started falling. I screamed and jumped out of the way toward Matty. The tree fell against the wall and Seth grabbed it. We looked at each other. I laughed.

Seth’s exact horrified words were, “What the fuck did your mom give us?!”

After catching my breath from laughing so hard, I bent down to see one of the three “legs” on the tree stand was completely cracked. Annoyed, Seth told me to hold the tree. He left the room and came back with a roll of crafting wire that I had previously purchased to hang pictures. In my head I thought, ‘Oh, here we go…’.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to try to wrap this around there and see if it will hold it up.”

Seth got on his hands and knees and went underneath the tree. All I could see was his tush down to his feet and all I could hear was disgruntled mumbling littered with swear words.

“ALL RIGHT! YOU CAN LET IT GO. I THINK I GOT IT.”

I let go of the tree and stepped away. And then just like that, there was a loud crack. Seth’s feet kicked and his body flopped.

“MEGAN, GET IT!”

I did my best to catch the tree but Seth was still lodged underneath when I did.

“GOD DAMNIT! THIS GOD DAMN PIECE OF SHIT. BASTARDS. WHAT THE FUCK? THERE’S A FUCKING DEAD ANIMAL UNDER HERE!! MEGAN!!!”

His voice was muffled by all of the fake tree, animal fur and shitty dirt. He slowly wiggled his way out and when he emerged, his face was red, his shirt was covered in a mixture of animal shit, fake pine needles, weird clumps of lint/dead animal fur and dirt. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. He glared at me and then hastily stood up and walked over to the box I had pulled the tree from

“Megan. This box is full of fucking animal shit. How did you not see it?!…Your mom gave us a 100 year old Christmas tree full of dead animals. Call her and tell her thanks.”

“Well, I couldn’t tell it was animal shit! How was I supposed to know!?”

And with that, Seth grabbed left the room to grab the vacuum.

A few days late we bought a 10 foot narrow, pre-lit tree and all of our Christmas dreams came true.

Seth & the crime scene