And now I'm down adjusting the stand, cranking on one screw, then the other, accomplishing nothing in just a short time.
"How's that?" I ask.
"Still crooked," my older daughter says.
So I adjust some more, grunting the way dads do when they put up a Christmas tree--a double-grunt here and a triple-grunt there. The bigger the tree, the more the grunts. This is probably a four-grunt tree. Pretty nice. With the discount, about 50 bucks.
"You all right, Dad?" the boy says, crawling under the tree with me.
"I could use a pillow," I say.
"OK, I'll get you a pillow," he says, shimmying back out again.
"You all right?" my wife asks, which always makes a husband a little upset, to be asked whether he's all right, just because he's grunting and sweating and muttering under his breath.
"I'm fine," I mutter.
"Are you going to be under there awhile?" my wife asks.
"Just through the holidays," I say.
As I study the tree stand, the little girl begins to wrap garland around my ankles and mistletoe around my toes. In a short time, my legs and feet are fully decorated.
"Hey, Dad!" the little girl hollers.
"Hey, what?" I ask.
"It's finally Christmas!" the little girl yells.
"Yeah, it's finally Christmas," I say.
Chris Erskine's column is published on Wednesdays. His e-mail address is email@example.com.