“Angela, if you get a chance, I would really like you to take down the tree today,” the principal said to me shortly after I had arrived at work.
I was more than happy to take down the tree. I hated the tree almost instantly after it had been erected in the cafeteria. One of the local gas stations donated a Christmas tree to the high school, and I learned that it was my responsibility, as study hall supervisor, to have the students decorate the tree.
They decorated the tree in December, and it was a dreadful embarrassment. I asked them not to put on any tinsel because I found it horribly tacky, but they threw it all over the branches with great glee and enthusiasm. The bulbs were random old decorations that had managed to survive the years without breaking, but they didn’t match at all. The students also got carried away, as teenagers are prone to do, and found the most random of happenings completely hysterical. They laughed their skinny little asses off when they put a Cheez-it box on top of the tree, like it was the funniest thing in the whole wide world.
While they were prouder than a peacock, I was embarrassed beyond belief. I went into these neurotic fears of mine that I was going to be reprimanded by the principal and lose my job because the tree was just too damn ugly. I was supposed to oversee the decorations and what had I allowed them to do? A Cheez-it box where the star should be? I hung my head in deep shame, but clocked out and went home at the end of the day without mentioning a word of the disastrous holiday décor.
When I arrived at work the next day, the principal asked me about the tree. “So, the kids got the tree decorated, huh?” he asked. I shook my head and acknowledged, “I think it may be the ugliest tree in the history of all trees. For Christ’s sake, did you see the Cheez-it box? They just got so carried away and they were having fun.”
I was genuinely ashamed, and a little bit fearful of my position in the district, even though I just had dropped the phrase “For Christ’s Sake” in front of my employer. My fears quickly dissipated as he responded, “It’s perfect.” I looked at him like he was fucking crazy. “Well, I would never want the tree in my own house to look such a mess, but it’s perfect for here. You can tell it was decorated by high school students for high school students,” he replied.
He was right, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was also highly relieved today, though, that he wanted the damn ugly thing down. It may have been perfect for fourteen to seventeen year olds, as my principal had indicated, but it was still a fucking eye sore to me.
“I will gladly find some students to assist me in taking that tree down today,” I replied with sincerity, “I just hope I don’t find a condom hanging in there as I take it down.”
“Oh, yes, the Christmas Condom,” he smiled and nodded. The students had warned me that, inevitably, some kid hangs a condom in the tree every year. I hadn’t noticed it yet, and was not looking forward to its arrival.
“It’s kind of like the tradition of the glass pickle,” my principal said, “Isn’t that a German tradition?”
“Yes,” I replied, as I was most definitely large parts stubborn German in ancestry, “The first to find the pickle on the tree is the first one to open a gift.”
“Yes,” he said, “I guess the condom is just a spin on that. I haven’t noticed one in the tree yet this year, though. They may not have done it. If not, you’re doing a fine job in there, Angela, a fine job.”
As all the ornaments and lights came down today and the tree was thrown outside in the snow, no condom was found among the decorations. I have done a fine job, a fine job indeed. I am happy to be the one to bring an end to the tradition to the Christmas Condom, and even happier that I work with individuals who operate in the same world I do – rather than pretending to be holier than thou and acting as though the sight of a condom were a sign of Satan. Kids will be kids, and I’m so damn glad we can all finally just be real about that.