Holiday hornet invasion
It was the Christmas of 1998. We had just been blessed by the birth of our daughter Hannah on Nov. 30, and my wife was still recovering at home. I decided that I would go to a local tree farm in Galt and choose the perfect tree that I could saw myself.
It took me at least 10 minutes to saw through my 12 and a half foot tree and I strained numerous muscles dragging it to the cashier. As I proudly dragged this beast of a tree into my house, I caught a look from my wife. I convinced her that I would manage to put the tree in the stand by myself and to not worry about anything.
I labored for over four hours securing this beast with ropes, bungie cords and a bucket of sweat. I finally secured the tree and was waiting for a glimpse of joy from my wife when the nightmare happened.
The beast fell with full force and missed my sleeping daughter by a couple of inches. Next, the nightmare. A hornets’ nest was living inside my tree and the insects were now free and terrorizing my wife and two children.
Three hours later, I killed the last hornet, and my wife was able to come out of hiding with the children.
The tree was eventually safely secured and we had a wonderfully blessed Christmas.
Needless to say I have never gone to another Christmas tree farm, nor have been allowed to purchase a tree without my wife giving her approval of safety.
— John DuBois, Lodi
Soapsud snow disaster
When I was growing up in the ‘40s, we had Luxe video theater that advertised Luxe soap. At Christmas time, they told you how to take Luxe, mix it with water and it would look like snow. My mother didn’t have Luxe soap, so we used Rinso. We got it all snowed up and it was beautiful. But the smell! It stunk to high heaven, running my dog and grandmother out of the room. We had to take all the ornaments off, drag the tree into the basement, vaccuum off the snow and bring it all back.
— Nancy Scanlon, Acampo
A giant cut down
We were quite late getting our tree this year. It was about 8 feet tall, which made me the happiest of all. I watched as the kids put each ornament on and talked about where the ornament had come from and how much they loved our tall tree.
Moments after the tree was up, we heard a loud crash. My husband and I came into the living room to find our tree, stand and all tipped over. The kids were adamant no one had been near it. We took as many ornaments off as we could and put it on the porch. Where the tree had stood not moments earlier was a puddle of water, tree needles, and broken ornaments.
Armed with a piece of wood to help stabilize the stand and determination to make things better, my husband got started. Thirty minutes later he called my dad to come help.
My husband sent me a picture of the “improved” tree. It was now half the size and no longer resembled my beautiful, tall tree that we had brought home.
I tried not to cry. I told myself it is not about the tree, it’s about the memories.
When I got home, he and the kids had redecorated it and plugged in the lights. As I watched the kids smiling and enjoying their creation, I realized this was the perfect tree.
— Christy Seymour, Galt
Hiding the flaws
Having that perfect tree was always important to my mom since we had an open house for relatives and friends every Christmas Eve.
But one year, in the mid-’50s in Los Angeles, Dad had the idea of getting the tree as a surprise since Mom was so busy with baking and decorating. He picked out a spindly tree less than six feet tall. When he pulled it into our house Mom was visibly disappointed.
We made it look a little bit taller by placing it on a wooden box. We started decorating it with huge multicolored lights and large fragile glass ornaments, but it still looked weak and awkward.
So Mom had an idea to use the angel hair we usually put on the mantel.
She had to wear gloves so the tiny little glass fragments wouldn’t dig into her hands and she pushed angel hair into the branches among the ornaments.
Then out came the tinsel! Dad put the angel on the tree top, and we all stood back and really admired what we had done.
The tree was actually quite beautiful and the angel hair brought a softness as the ornaments nestled among it.
We were overwhelmed with the beauty! Christmas Eve came and we were relieved that the tree had survived the warmth of the house and kept its beautiful glow.
Our open house visitors thought our idea of adding angel hair to the tree was wonderful and thought they would do it the following year.
We all just stood back and smiled and basked with the compliments and never once let on that it was the worst tree we ever had.
— Jan Alexander, Lodi