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The Crap Tree November 29, 2010

Posted by Michael in News.

[Note by Michael:  It has become a tradition at Innocent Bystanders to annually republish the first-ever blog post by Dave in Texas during the Christmas season.  It has become a classic.  This is the original version, which actually predates the founding of Innocent Bystanders.  Except I have greatly improved it by centering the pictures.]

Several years ago my wife conceived a plan to take over Christmas decorations in our home. She’s been very patient, moving so carefully that I only realized the scope of her plan this year. This fight isn’t over, not by a long shot. But I’ve lost a lot of ground.

I am what you would call a ‘Christmas kind of guy’. I love Christmas. I love the lights and the pretty packages, the wreaths, the greenery hanging everywhere. I like Christmas plates and coffee cups. Christmas cookies, Christmas music, Christmas towels in the bathrooms, Christmas napkins, Christmas movies and books, if they had Christmas toilet paper I would buy two cases (does anybody know if they make that?). I think Christmas lights on pickup trucks look terrific.


I really dig Christmas.

As soon as the clutter is cleaned away from the Thanksgiving feast, I’m up in the attic getting boxes down. I know where every one of them is, and I pretty much know what’s inside of them. Not because I pack them up every January (that always makes me sad). I suppose it’s just that we tend to use the same boxes for things. You could sum up my taste in Christmas decorations in one phrase. Colored lights. Yes, like the late Michael Kelly wrote on the topic of Christmas lights, there are white light people, and colored light people. I’m in the second group. Years ago I conceded the inevitability of teeny lights taking over. I gave up trying to find strings of lights with those big painted bulbs that burned your fingers. I miss them, but I understand. Technology changes things. But even if they’re teeny, I have to have colored lights. This theme extends to other decorations.


I have an affinity for Christmas-schlock. The cheesier the better. A dancing Santa Claus with an electric guitar and sunglasses? Oh yes. Strings of lights that look like jalapenos? Lovely. Elves laid out in a winter North Pole Office Party display, holding little cans of Bud Light while singing drunken Christmas tunes? I am so there. And you have guessed the dark secret of Christmas in our home. My wife is not a colored lights kind of person. She is a white lights gal. I don’t blame her, taste is subjective, right? Eye of the beholder and all that. We can coexist. We can cooperate, compromise, a little give here, a little take there. We’ll find a way to get along. You know, the Russkies and the Americans. Detente baby.


limited edition strat and twin reverb amp ornament

Well, I was wrong so I didn’t see it coming. It started with a new Christmas tree. She brought it home a few years ago. It’s bigger than our old tree. 10 feet. It’s frickin ginormous! Me, I’m all excited. What could be better than one Christmas tree? Two trees! Oh yeah, two sets of lights and ornaments and glitter, extra room for more presents. This will be so cool! I set the new tree up first. In the formal dining room, right there in the front window where everyone can see it. We decided the older tree would be just fine in the family room, we moved some things around and set it up there. Looked just fine. I didn’t even notice when my wife pulled the strings of white lights out that something was amiss. ‘Sure’, I thought, ‘woo… fan-cee’. What the heck. White lights on the new tree.

Then I noticed we had packages (really nice packages, you know, the kind of shopping bags you keep cause they’re so pretty?) with more ornaments in them. Impressive looking ornaments too, glass and crystal and gold. Wow. But hey, 10 foot tree, sure, we’ll need more stuff to put on it. It was when I reached into a box to pull out my favorite lights, the string of little Fender Telecasters, and headed for the new tree, that the plan in its entirety was revealed to me. She said ‘STOP right there!’ evenly spacing her words using a tone of voice that said I should seriously consider stopping right there. ‘There will be none of that on this tree’, she said. Same tone. I said what most husbands say when they are confronted with possible wrongdoing. ‘Wh-a-a-at?’ Real slowly, dumb-like. ‘No guitar lights. No old pictures. No jalapenos’ she said.


And she was deadly serious.  She looked right at me and announced ‘this is the ‘nice tree’’.

The Nice Tree™. In the front room, prominently displayed in the big window. I looked around. The other decorations in the room began to make sense to me. The special Christmas china was set on the formal table. The expensive candle holders on the table by the entry, with long tapered white candles in them, you know, the kind you can’t get at Wal-Mart (10 for .55 cents). And then I understood. This room, was going to be ‘pretty’. Like a Christmas display at some expensive store on 5th Avenue, the ones whose names I can’t pronounce correctly. I looked at what was now my tree. Guitar lights. Ornaments from Fender. The decorations my kids made in Sunday school with funny shaped noodles and gold spray paint. Popsicle sticks and yarn and pictures. Hidden in the family room where no eye shall be offended. No one can see it.

I began calling my tree the “Crap Tree”.

The Nice Tree has gold swirly things on it, and a special tree skirt thingy made of silk and shiny stuff. It’s really pretty. It looks like something you would find in one of those stores in Salado. The Crap Tree has an old skirt made of something that looks like shag carpet. It has a pattern that sort of resembles a Christmas tree, at least, the way a Christmas tree looks to a myopic drunk. In a moment of weakness my brother in law crocheted it for us. It’s been more than 15 years and I still kick his ass about that.


easy to spot boxes

I am not allowed to put my special guitar ornaments on the Nice Tree. Who am I kidding? I’m not allowed to put anything on the Nice Tree. Every now and then, I sneak one on it when no one is looking. It doesn’t matter. My oldest daughter finds it and moves it back. At lease I’m not completely alone in my fight, my youngest daughter will take one of my ornaments and sneak it back on the nice tree. Occasionally sibling rivalry will overcome their natural tendency to gang up on you because of gender affiliation.  Which is nice.

The Crap Tree has lights on it from The Hard Rock Café. I think those are my favorite, although the lights that look like jalapenos are a close second. Ever since my wife debuted the Nice Tree, Christmas in our house has been looking a little different. The living room is starting to spread out. Our old Frosty the Snowman and Christmas tree hand towels we used to put in the guest bathroom have been replaced with much prettier hand towels. None of us is allowed to touch them. You wash your hands in this bathroom, you better wipe them off on your blue jeans. My ‘singing Santa’ with the electric guitar and the sunglasses is now back in my bedroom on the dresser. The battery has been removed.

This year I couldn’t find the Drunken Office Party Elves. My wife says she has no idea what happened to them. She says it in a way that makes me think she knows exactly what happened to them, and I will never see them again.


Olive, the other reindeer

So I know what I’m up against. Soon, next year, or maybe the one after that, I will find myself engaged in a desperate battle, a last stand in front of my dearest Christmas decoration, the Crap Tree.

She may relent. The Crap Tree has ornaments that have all our Christmas memories on it, 22 years worth. Decorations we bought when we spent our first Christmas together. Things our friends gave to us. Decorations that her students gave to her. Special ornaments with years on them from Christmases past that go back before our kids were born. Pictures of the girls when they were little in red and white Christmas dresses, hugging Santa and telling him how good they had been this year. So long ago, before cars and boys and college. Every now and then I find a little bit of attic insulation in one of the branches, from a Christmas years ago when I slipped in the overhead and put my foot through the ceiling, right over the tree. The youngest looked up and said ‘Mommy, it’s Santa’! I think she was 4.

I love the Crap Tree. It is an old friend. It’s the decoration in our house that says “Christmas” to me, and I hope it always will.

Hey guess where this is?


A gift from the Geoffs.  Proudly displayed.


1. Retired Geezer - November 29, 2010

YAY! The Crap Tree Rules! 1!!!eleventy!11

Now I can go get our Christmas crap decorations out of the storage unit.

2. Tushar - November 29, 2010

I don’t have much of a Christmas tradition, (being a heathen/pagan and all that) so my Christmas tradition is pretty much to read this story every year.

3. xbradtc - November 29, 2010

Yippee! The Crap Tree is here! It must be the Christmas Season!

4. xbradtc - November 29, 2010
5. It must be the Christmas season… | Bring the heat, Bring the Stupid - November 29, 2010

[…] … because the Crap Tree is here! […]

6. Lipstick - November 29, 2010

“Olive, the other reindeer” cracks me up every year.

7. Dave in Texas - November 29, 2010

I wish I could take credit for it. I bought that ornament in Walnut Creek CA, in 2000 I think. It was some promotional Christmas-y thing at one of the big retail chains, like Macy’s maybe.

It was corny enough for Dave to say “Yes!”

8. Cathy - November 29, 2010

Knew sumpin was missin’

Crap Tree is Here.

Now I’m good.

9. roamingfirehydrant - November 29, 2010

Spent Thanksgiving weekend divvying up Mom’s Christmas stuff between the siblings. The plastic needlepoint ornaments I made when I was 12 are going up on my crap tree.

10. ChrisP - November 29, 2010

Did the drunken office party elves ever surface? This brought tears! Loved it!

11. Michael - November 29, 2010

Cathy allows me to have a crap tree in the Batcave, with all the old ornaments. Ugly stuff my kids gave me many years ago and so forth. And garish colored lights, which can’t be seen from any exterior window.

I thank Dave for this.

12. daveintexas - November 29, 2010

RFH, I’m glad you have them now, even though the circumstances are sad.

ChrisP, no, the drunken office party elves are lost to the mists of antiquity.

13. lauraw - November 29, 2010

*pours a 40 on the ground for the drunken office party elves*

(‘The mists of antiquity’ = trash can at McDonald’s)

14. skinbad - November 30, 2010

My wife tried to pull off a nice tree last night. She bought some matching ornaments 15(?) years ago and has never used them. Our youngest (9) threw a fit. Crap tree it is! I suggested the two-tree solution. Once the Mrs. stops fuming, she’ll consider it.

15. Retired Geezer - November 30, 2010

She bought some matching ornaments Angel Moroni light strings 15(?) years ago


16. skinbad - November 30, 2010
17. mesablue - December 3, 2010

This was the first post on the Internet.


18. daveintexas - December 3, 2010

Sure seems like it to me.

19. kevl - December 4, 2010

*wipes away tear
Let Christmas commence!

20. Toni - December 4, 2010

This is my first time to read the Crap Tree…love it. Miss y’all!

21. Lea - December 4, 2010

I still vote for the Crap tree. It wouldn’t be the same without the ornaments that the kid made and we have saved from year to year. Dave, I vote for your Crap tree forever.

22. The Batcave Crap Tree « Innocent Bystanders - December 5, 2010

[…] few years ago, Cathy was so moved by Dave’s Crap Tree post that she decided to let Michael have a crap tree again, like the crap trees they had when they were […]

23. sohos - December 10, 2010

YAY!!!!! NOW I am in the spirit. I love this!

24. My craptree | Bring the heat, Bring the Stupid - December 11, 2010

[…] seeing THE craptree post at Innocent Bystanders, and the followup post about Michael’s craptree, I thought I’d […]

25. Looking like Christmas | Bring the heat, Bring the Stupid - December 19, 2010

[…] Roamy here.  This is my craptree post.  If you don’t know what I mean by that, this is the original craptree and XBradTC’s craptree.  There is no chance of a Macy’s-style, coordinated ornament, […]

26. JAM2 - December 19, 2010


dave has it….
the true meaning is…..for you

Merry Christmas my Friends

27. Y-not - December 22, 2010

Long live the Crap Tree! Stick to your guns, buddy!

28. beverly - December 23, 2010

I LOVED this. Sent the link to my favorite people. I’m most definitely a colored lights kinda gal! But I mix up the old German glass with the first homemade salt-dough ornaments, knitted things from a friend, Grandma’s collection, family heirlooms, and Silly Stuff.

It looks Fabulous.

29. Alan Seeger - December 23, 2010

I now desperately want a string of Fender Telecaster Christmas tree lights. 😉

30. Jenny Bea - December 23, 2010

@Beverly- we had the salt dough ornaments, too. Some of them lost their color after a decade, but they still went up, totally petrified.

I got a great crap ornament this year- the head of a snowman which changes colors. This is a great story, and I’ll hang onto mine, rather than the Lord and Taylor tree.

31. Retired Geezer - December 23, 2010

the head of a snowman which changes colors

Not unlike the Real Dave in Texas, himself.

32. lauraw - December 23, 2010

Is that MY Jenny Bea?

*smooshy hugs*

33. Jenny Bea - December 23, 2010

All yours, sugar britches! 😉

34. lauraw - December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas, Sweetness!

We have to arrange a Winter Outing one of these days.
I’ll drive.

Let’s go to Boston just to burn cigarettes on some hipster douches or some such.

*acts tough*

35. Jenny Bea - December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas to you too, honey pie!

You’ll have to drive. My time machine only works in the summer. I’m skerred of driving in the snow.

I’ll supply the Camel filterless smokes. And the stink bombs with the ammonia. We’ll leave those tasty treats at the university.

You need to get a pair of black Doc Martins. And a bejewelled skull shirt.

36. Michael - December 23, 2010

Let’s go to Boston just to burn cigarettes on some hipster douches or some such.

Please don’t hurt my son. He’s a pretty good kid with a job, even if he is a hipster douche.

37. lauraw - December 23, 2010

You need to get a pair of black Doc Martins. And a bejewelled skull shirt.

*bites lip with uncertainty*

Have we…met?
Can I wear something pink and still kick ass?

I mean, come on now.
They’re metro-douches. How hard can it be?

Michael, your son is a chef, yes? The lad is toast unless he cooks Jenny & me something tasty in between douche-stompings.

38. Dave in Texas - December 23, 2010


what are doc martins? smokes?

39. lauraw - December 23, 2010

Oh they’re these absolutely God-awful heavy black boots that hoods and bikers and Goths wear.

They just don’t match a thing in my closet at all.

*looks for something ruffly and feminine to curb-stomp motherfucking hipster douches in*

40. Jenny Bea - December 23, 2010

*Isn’t fancy with italics and quotes*

Doc Martins are shit kickers. They can have pink laces. Make ’em purdy. But… I bet they make pink Docs.

I’m thinking something undercover… burberry scarves, rotten eggs and a slingshot.

Michael, tell your son no sea food. I’m a land lover, we don’t have oceans in Oklahoma. Meat and potatoes will suffice!

41. lauraw - December 23, 2010

They’re usually known to be all black, but here’s a good HAIL BRITANNIA IS KICKING YOUR ASS boot


42. Jenny Bea - December 23, 2010
43. lauraw - December 23, 2010

“The last thing I saw was the Union Jack flying at my face, then my head hit the pavement and everything went dark.”

-random unlucky metrodouche hippy bastard

44. Jenny Bea - December 23, 2010

It was reported in the news that the random unlucky metrodouche hippy bastard was revived at the hospital using patchouli oil.

45. lauraw - December 23, 2010

LOL @ http://www.the949styleguide.com/2009/07/get-this-look-doc-martens.html


*sound of glass exploding out of windows*

46. Jenny Bea - December 23, 2010

Hey, I think you’d be a sexy bitch! That and the Hello Kitty AR 15, and you’d be the metrodouche hippy bastard antichrist equivalent.


47. Dave in Texas - December 23, 2010

I got me a pair of shitkickers from Cavenders.. but they sure don’t look like that.

I ain’t got no AR 15 either, but I do have a commie SKS.

So I got that goin for me. Which is nice.

48. lauraw - December 23, 2010

HA HA HAHAA that’s awesome.

Torn on the whole cute pink rifle concept though. Kind of still want guns to look badass.

49. lauraw - December 23, 2010

Okay, I’m outta here for now. Glad you swanged by Sugarheads! Check up on us anytime! There’s usually a new post here every day and you have met most of these folks, if ever so briefly.

Will email you tomorrow for sure. I have 4WD and I ain’t afraid to use it.

50. Jenny Bea - December 23, 2010

I don’t think I’d want the WHOLE thing pink, but I think my Glock would look cool with like powder pink accents.

Dave, your shitkickers work. Come on up. We’ll terrorize the yankees.

51. daveintexas - December 23, 2010

I wore em to Boston at the first meetup. Apparently cowboy boots make Bostonians nervous.

see what I did there?

52. Retired Geezer - December 23, 2010

Eleven year old girl repels burglars with Pink Rifle.

53. Michael - December 23, 2010

Michael, tell your son no sea food. I’m a land lover, we don’t have oceans in Oklahoma. Meat and potatoes will suffice!

He works at Top Of The Hub. It’s the restaurant at the top of the Prudential building, a Boston landmark.

I can vouch for the fact that they serve meat and potatoes. Plus, a great view.

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