True story: I haven’t had a Christmas tree since 1995 because I adopted two cats in 1996. Two trouble-seeking cats who pursued destruction with an unimaginable ferocity.
It’s possible I could have put up a tree last year, when the cat count was down to one 15-year-old feline who didn’t seem quite as keen on mischief as he once was. Once you get out of the habit of NOT having a tree, however, it’s a lot of trouble to get back in the spirit.
For weeks, I meant to buy a blank canvas, but honestly it’s hard to convince myself to drive around in Atlanta unless I’m LEAVING Atlanta. So if I can’t buy something at Publix, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens or Moes Southwest Grill, I usually find that I can get by without it.
Luckily, my apartment complex parks a big Dumpster in the parking garage on my floor for folks who just can’t manage to haul their cast-offs to the first floor as they’re moving in or out. I spotted two canvases leaning against a big pile of flattened boxes one morning when I darted in to put my trash in the chute.
I think it must be ex-boyfriend art. I mean, the canvases are in great shape, other than what’s painted on them. The one on the left is almost passable, except the longer you look at that big purple flower, the more uneasy and antsy it makes you. Or maybe it’s just me. Art. You know. It’s weird.
I suspect I was supposed to paint over the old paintings with gesso, but all I had was some leftover beige ceiling paint and some red latex from another project. Two nights, two coats of paint.
I kind of doubted my ability to complete a random shape like the writer of the original post did, so I looked for stencils to trace. I found a swoopy, modern-looking tree stencil at Altogether Christmas and ended up drawing it freehand on the back of the larger canvas with a pencil.
First, however, I attempted to estimate how many “levels” the tree should have, based on the number of lights I had (150) and a rough estimate of how far apart the lights would go. And then I gave up and just drew a big swoopy tree.
While watching “The Walking Dead” (holidays! guts! zombies!), I punched holes approximately 1 inch apart along the pencil lines with a sharp kitchen knife (the original writer used an awl, and I’m pretty sure I don’t own one). An awl would have probably made it easier to make standard-sized holes; instead, I had to use my own somewhat distracted judgment. Ideally, I think, the holes should be ever so slightly smaller than the light bulbs being punched through the back. Any bigger and the bulbs won’t stay in without tape (or, I guess, glue); too small and you may stand a change of breaking the bulb trying to force it through.
I had about 20 lights left over when I was done punching holes. Considering the big mess of wires draped along the back of the canvas, a few extra lights don’t really make much of a difference.
The original instructions advised me to secure each light with hot glue, but that seemed like a lot of trouble. It also seemed incredibly permanent, and I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to change any bulbs that burned out if they were glued in. Sure enough, after I unplugged the strand and moved the finished product across the room, none of the red bulbs worked when I plugged the lights back in.
While I don’t pretend to understand Christmas lights, I did remember that I had a small baggie of replacement bulbs. I guess I replaced the right bulb (first red one on the strand), because everything worked again afterwards.
It’s not much to look at in daylight, but it’s absolutely magical after dark. And, above all else, the holidays should be magical.
Onward, then, to the eggnog. Oh, and I guess I have another canvas to light up.