While discussing Christmas trees with a group of moms the other day, I heard several stories of toppled trees. I walked away thinking it must just be a rite of passage for parents to have their Christmas tree tip over at least once while their kids are young. I won’t soon forget the year it happened at our house.

We’d picked out a beautiful “corner tree,” meaning it was gorgeous on one side but if you turned it around it had seriously stunted limbs. This, of course, meant you could push it into the corner of the room, and no one would be the wiser about its deformity. We got it up and decorated and naturally added some water to keep it alive. It seemed, however; that as the tree soaked up the water, it was steadily getting heavier on the long-limb side and since that’s where all the ornaments were, it was just more weight than our treestand could support so–crash, bam, boom, we had a mess on our hands. Broken ornaments and water covered the living room carpet.

Well, my husband, John, was not going to put up with any more tree-toppling incidents. He came up with the idea of cutting a giant piece of plywood into a stop-sign shape, then he secured the tree by threading bungee cords up through the holes he’d made in the plywood and attaching them to the tree stand. Then, just to be safe, he used fishing line to tie the tree to the nearby curtain rod. It was lovely. Thankfully our tree skirt covered the ugly plywood, but there was no hiding the fishing line. John tried to convince me that no one would notice the fishing line, but I’m not an easy sell.

That ugly plywood heptagon was part of the Christmas tree “stand” for many years until I finally said, “I can’t deal with that one more year!” In the meantime we’d purchased a new tree stand with a wider base so, thankfully, we’ve not missed the ugly heptagon or the fishing line.

And this wasn’t the only Christmas tree I’ve seen strewn across the floor. When I was a kid, my mom decided that a really good place for the Christmas tree was in the entryway of our house. To get to the entryway from our bedrooms you could go through the hall and straight into the entryway, or you could walk through the family room, then the kitchen, and into the living room that adjoined the entryway. Because our tree blocked the door from the hall, the “long way” was the only safe route. But, as you might imagine, it was hard for us to remember not to use the hallway door, despite the BIG sign on it that said, “don’t use this door.” It only took one ringing of the doorbell for one of us to come flying out of out bedroom and remember too late that we weren’t to use that door. Oops! And thus, the great Christmas tree topple was launched.

Like I said, it seems to be a rite of passage for all parents, handed down like high cholesterol from one generation to the next. So, if this is your year, welcome to the club.