Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Story of Christmas Trees in Our Home

As soon as Thanksgiving hit, thoughts and discussions of our first Christmas ensued. Of course, this also included foresight into decorating a Christmas tree together. This lovely occasion will commence this coming weekend.

However, this will NOT be our first Christmas tree. No, not our first by a long shot. Grab a coffee and maybe a shot of Baileys while I describe the ridiculousness that surrounds the whole idea of US having a Christmas tree TOGETHER.

First, we have, I believe, the year 2003. We live in the condo-that-will-never-sell. It isn't, and never was, big enough for all the stuff that two people own who separately lived in homes more than twice the size of the condo-that-will-never-sell prior to moving into the condo-that-will-never-sell together and sharing space. With a dog and cat and newts. Most of which incidentally illegal at subject property. Anyhow, during this hectic and ridiculous time, we are both in school, juggling workloads, trying to keep sane, and our living room became a storage unit for boxes of stuff. Yes, we had a REAL storage unit, but it was, and is, FULL. Anyway, on to the story. There was no room to set up a tree. We got ourselves a tiny potted Christmas tree. We put lights on it. And our one beautiful Swarovski ornament that has since become an annual tradition graced its strongest branch, yet still made it sag under the weight. We put the tree in our bedroom, and we'd turn the tree lights on, all the other lights off, and just celebrate being alive and finally both having jobs, simultaneously, for long enough to afford decent Christmas gifts for everyone.

The plan my darling drafted mentally and then shared with me, and made me coo that he was certainly the most romantic man ever to walk the earth, was that we would keep this evergreen tree alive, and in the spring, when we finally bought a house together, we could plant our first Christmas tree in our yard. And decorate it every year.

Except, it died.

The only contact either of us had with the tree was to feel the soil in attempt to react if it were too dry. One day, I touched a branch. And every needle on that branch instantly broke free from their grip and scattered about the carpeting. I tried very hard to revive it. And, neither of us wanted to throw it out. In finally moving and disposing of the tree some weeks later, millions of tiny, dried, sharp pine needles implanted themselves into the carpeting of multiple rooms, not to be fully evactuated via vacuuming for months of effort.

2004 came. By this time, we'd reached the point where we were ready to buy a house together. Started shopping apartments to set up camp in while listing the condo-that-will-never-sell, ended up moving into Grandma's for what was supposed to be 6 months or so, and decided we needed our first regular sized tree. We bought it fairly late in the game, as he was traveling constantly with his job. About two days before Christmas, there were finally some lights on it. But it never bore a single ornament. We were never home at the same time for a single night the whole time it was in the house. The nights we did both have off work and school and were both in town? We ran like mad to shop and get things done.

Then things went from bad to worse. Remember I mentioned he'd been traveling? Constantly? Yeah. This meant he was not around to take the thing down. It was the second or third week in January, and I was tired of cleaning up needles. I got it pretty well wrapped up in the special "tree disposal bag." I emptied the water from the tree stand, and tipped the entire thing on its side. Stand and all. Then, grasping the stand, I drug it across the living room, out the front door, and to the front of the yard. But not before the screen door slammed shut on me and the tree in the middle of this and broke my Movado watch.

And then? When I got home the next evening, the garbage crew had removed the contents of the trash cans, emptied all the recycleables, yet left the dead tree in its now-ripping-in-the-wind special tree removal bag. Oh the horror. The embarrassing horror. I was so careful to take it out at MIDNIGHT the night before trash pickup day, so the only people who would see it disposed of so late after the holidays were those who left for work after the sun came up, which is nearly nobody. But then? Then the whole neighborhood had the chance to see this dead seven foot Christmas tree poking its dried up branches through little holes in the bag. And the trail I made in the snow dragging it to the curb. Gah! I was sure all the neighbors were sitting inside their homes sipping tea and laughing at me.

It was Friday evening. My honey was expected home Sunday, if memory serves me right. He was working as a designer for a sporting goods company, and they did several weekend gigs, so it wasn't unusual for him to travel over the weekend. I could not move the tree, as it was now also stuck in the snow that had formed embankments all around its perimeter at the curb. It sat there until he got back, and all we could think to do was get rid of the bag, and put the dead tree in the backyard. So the neighbors got to sip tea and laugh at me for three days.

It seems the west siders have specific weeks that Christmas trees will be accepted into a garbage truck. I grew up on the east side, where they throw everything into the truck that you leave anywhere near your curb. No matter what week it is. If it's your trash day, and it's near your curb, it's going to disappear.

When spring 2005 came, part of our clean up efforts were to chop the dead Christmas tree into small pieces and load them into the approved brown paper organic refuse bags. But we didn't do this until the time came after which the trash collection schedule had approved pick up of these brown bags, of course. Our tree took up three bags. Dismemberment of the tree drew blood. It was a big job, and my poor honey ended up doing it all.

2005? We didn't even bother. Can you blame us?

2006? Now we're married and we have the whole first Christmas together deal to celebrate, so we have to have a tree. It's just necessary. So we bought a cheap fake one. It's light. I can deal with it alone. It requires no trunk trimming, or pennies in the stand. It does not increase the frequency of vacuuming requirements. It even came with a free wreath. That's fake, too.

I know, I know. Bah humbug.


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