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Fear of falling firs

By Sandra Hutchinson

By this time, less than a week before Christmas, most people who are going to have a Christmas tree in their home have already set it up and decorated it. But if you are one of those folks who follow the Old World tradition of not putting the tree up until Christmas Eve, or if you’ve had a disaster befall you similar to the one I’m about to describe, I would like to offer some hard-earned advice on the importance of an extra-sturdy, heavy-duty tree stand.

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2016 Christmas tree at New York Public Library’s main branch, Fifth Avenue, NYC—undoubtedly securely anchored!

First, if you have one of those flimsy aluminum stands you find in the holiday aisle of the supermarket, and you intend on putting up a tree more than a twig’s width in diameter, chuck the thing in the recycling bin. It is basically useless.

Second, if you have a cast iron stand, even though it may be beautiful and heavy, if any of the washers are missing on the screws that go into the tree trunk, or the washers are too small, you risk the screws sinking into the trunk (firs and pines being soft woods), causing the whole thing to tip over.

Now maybe you don’t care if your tree comes tumbling down, if all you have are plastic tchotchkes and paper chain garlands on it. But if you have glass ornaments, particularly ones that have been handed down to you through your family, you will most certainly care if the thing comes crashing down.

This is what happened to us, twice, in the past.

The last time the tree came down (due to a missing washer on that decorative cast iron Victorian stand), I sat sobbing in our living room, picking up the remnants of the angel in a glass bubble that I had had since I was a little girl, while my husband went out on a frantic mission to find the strongest, heaviest-duty tree stand available in our tri-county area.

He rose to the occasion and came home from Mead’s Nursery in Queensbury with a large stand with two pieces — a plastic receptacle into which the base of the trunk is inserted and secured with sharp, pointed levers attached to bolts, and a base that resembles a dome, into which the trunk in its receptacle is lowered and secured. After locking the tree in place, you depress a foot pedal to swivel the tree to its proper upright position.

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This stand does the job! The red foot pedal retracts into the base so it’s not visible. I cover the dome with a tree skirt after set-up.

Since we’ve been using this stand, we’ve been free of fear of falling firs in our house. I don’t wake up repeatedly during the night, feeling compelled to go downstairs and check on the tree, jiggling it to test its steadfastness.

But even when your tree is secure, there’s yet another concern— no more flimsy wire hangers! If you happen to have any of the old, extra heavy ornament hooks made BC (before China), guard them with your life. I find if I dig hard enough my old family ornament boxes, I can usually come up some a few. If not, check Vermont Country Store, which still sells the old-fashioned steel kind that grandma used to use (although sometimes the store sells out of them!).

So if all the Whos in Whoville had the right stand, that mean old Grinch wouldn’t lend a hand, topping the Who trees and breaking the Who glass, and if the Who baubles were property affixed to the tree, that nasty old Grinch wouldn’t holler in glee!

Merry Christmas!

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