Yesterday, exactly eight weeks after I had first put it up, I took down my Christmas tree.
I didn’t really want to. But my boyfriend had revealed my secret to a coworker and his girlfriend the previous day, and while I’ve ignored his protests over the past few months, having my embarrassing secret out in public forced me to face reality. It was time for it to go.
The needles were, surprisingly, still green (I’d been sneaking the tree water when my boyfriend wasn’t looking), but mostly bare – only a few bits of tinsel still clung to random branches. Just a week earlier, I’d taken off the lights, tinsel and random mismatched ornaments my mom had sent from home, including three homemade paper stars complete with crayon drawings and school pictures of myself and my two siblings from our early grade school years.
Packing them up took a disappointingly short time despite dragging my feet in the chore. I’ll admit I briefly considered leaving the red lights on and decorating the tree with hearts for Valentine’s Day. But, my Valentine would’ve had an aneurysm.
Even without decorations, I still thought the tree looked nice, standing alone in the corner of my living room. My boyfriend said it looked like a fire hazard.
I suppose he was right (though I’m not ready to admit it just yet). When we picked up the tree to carry it to my car, there was a swooshing sound as hundreds of little pine needles dropped to the floor. Maybe it wasn’t so alive after all.
A few of my neighbors gave us funny looks as we drove away from the apartment, a half-dead conifer folded and crammed into the back of my little hatchback. At the dump, a quick toss sent the tree into a dumpster. Surrounded by other trash, its top poking out the top of the can, my Christmas tree looked Charlie Brown-esque for the first time.
I’m not sure what neurotic tendency took hold of me with this Christmas tree. Some of it, I’m sure is due to general laziness: “Dispose of Christmas Tree” was conveniently never near the top of my weekend list of chores. And some of it came down to stubbornness. The more I was told it needed to go, the more days fell off the calendar, the more I wanted to hold out just a little bit longer. Or maybe it was the fact that this tree represents one of the longest stretches I’ve managed to keep any plant alive. As long as its needles kept barely clinging on, I should cling on too.
At least I can say I come by it naturally: A white star hanging above my family’s garage in Billings never came down between Christmases last year. It remained unlit in the off-season of course, except for the Fourth of July when it again, briefly, became appropriate.
Whatever the cause, I now realize I may have been a bit too nutty about my tree – my cheeks have been blushing just writing this blog. But, I realized this morning I haven’t let go quite yet. When I got in my car to drive to work, the pine needles, scattered along my seats and floorboards, left my car smelling piney fresh. I wonder how long it will take me to clean those out.
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