My first Christmas tree: Non-Jewish things are harder than they look

Around this time of year, everyone gets excited about going back home and doing festive “Christmasy” activities: decorating their Christmas tree, getting together with their family, going to church (whether they like it or not) and making cookies.

But, if you’re Jewish like me, you’ve probably never gotten a chance to do some of these things. A lot of Jewish people don’t celebrate Christmas.

My best friend told me he was going to get his Christmas tree and asked if I wanted to come with him and help decorate. Without any hesitation, I said, “Sure, why not?” to see what all the fuss was about decorating a tree.

Maybe it was a sign, but our adventure to get the perfect Christmas tree didn’t start off well. We walked around in the cold for about an hour to pick the perfect tree, and we found it. A beautiful big ol’ pine tree that would look great dressed in all his decorations and lights.

Once we got it on top of the car, the workers strapped it in under the roof and accidentally strapped over the car doors.

We got locked out of the car.

My friend had to drive home by himself, climb out the window and drive all the way back to get us after he had gotten the tree off his car all by himself.

Once we got home I was surprisingly more excited to decorate a tree than I thought I would be.

Things started off on the wrong foot once we stood the tree up.

I thought trees just automatically stood up straight. But when my friend’s tree tilted all the way to the right, it just seemed off. So we spent a good five or ten minutes unscrewing the base, checking the tree, tilting and rotating until it finally stood up straight.

Now on to the most anticipated part of the evening: decorations.

Everyone always hyped up decorating his or her Christmas tree so I was excited to finally have a tree as a canvas to make my artsy Christmas masterpiece.

We started off with the lights. I walked around that tree for what felt like an eternity, wrapping more and more layers onto the tree to make a light spectacular.

Only one problem – after finishing putting three whole lines of lights on, we realized we had done it backwards and put the wrong plug at the bottom of the tree. Which meant no pretty lights and we’d have to do it all over again.

After we finally took all the lights off and hung them going in the right direction, we plugged those bad boys in and… no lights. One of the lines of lights was burnt out.

Are you kidding me?! After all this work the lights don’t even work?!!

After contemplating giving up my decorating career we shook the lights out of frustration and *poof, * as if it were a Christmas miracle, they turned on and our tree was saved.

After we finally got that mess over and done with, it was time for garland.

Nobody told me about sap, and sap is sticky.

After touching the branches to fix all the lights for 45 minutes, my hands were pretty gross. But in the name of Christmas, I rolled with it and kept on decorating.

Have you ever tried to decorate with sappy hands? Well don’t, because it’s damn near impossible.

Imagine dipping your hands in maple syrup then picking up a rope. Now try to take that rope off your hands and make it look all pretty on a bunch of sticky, prickly branches. Needless to say, it was a mess.

After realizing my mistake, I washed my hands and got revenge on the garland that gave me so many issues moments before.

Now it was time for the star. We surprisingly got it all the way on top of the tree with no issues.

Ornaments were the cherry on top for the perfect tree. Snowmen, polar bears, snowflakes, penguins – you name it, this tree had it. Plus, some retro M&M lights that were absolutely amazing.

I guess after two hours of decorating that damn tree it was worth it in the end. I can finally say I decorated my first Christmas tree.

Now I’m all prepared for what not to do whenever the next opportunity arises for me to add that special touch to a friend’s Christmas tree.

Yup, I’m an honorary Christian now. But just for the tree. We’ll save church for another day.

Max Kalnitz is the senior arts editor and can be reached at