It’s sort of like the running of the bulls, only safer, less cruel, and much more satisfying.
It’s no secret I’m not a big fan of Christmas. In an effort to prevent wet-blanketing everyone else’s holiday this year, I tried really hard to express an acceptable amount of spirit. I did pretty good, if I do say so myself.
But nothing and no one can stop the fierce joy I experience the day after Christmas. I was as excited this morning as the kids were yesterday. Here’s how it goes: I pull off the ornaments, wrap them, and pack them up. I pack up the few decorations that were placed out (not by me, but by The Grandmother, who only pretends to be a Grinch.) The I carry the tree outside to take the lights off, because at this point even changes in barometric pressure cause needles to cascade down by the millions. I sweep up the floor, clean the window where the tree was sitting, and then go outside for the ceremony.
I pull off the lights, and my mood gets lighter and lighter–I was singing “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” by the time I pulled the last strand free. Then the stand comes off, and I drag the tree to the top of the hill above where all branches, sticks, and various yard wastes get tossed. I take a deep breath, hoist the tree up over my head, and then throw it as hard I can down over the hill.
Oh Christmas tree, indeed.
In all seriousness (well, as much as usual, anyway) I’ve done quite a bit of psychoanalysis during this holiday season. I don’t remember exactly when my view of Christmas turned so sour. There are some things I do know. For example, I think a major factor is my (not so) mild OCD. I thrive on my routine. I am happiest when things are where I want them to be. When this time of year rolls around, all of that gets thrown into chaos. The tree has to be worked into the plan, so to speak–plants and furniture have to be shifted around to make it work. The window is blocked and can’t be cleaned. The Grandmother sits cutesy little decorations around on various surfaces. In short, junk, mess, and clutter. Then there’s the tree.
I have tried every conceivable method of preserving the tree. I don’t put it up very early–Dec. 11th this year–but still, by the time Christmas rolls around, needles are dropping off almost constantly. I can hear them falling, and each little clack is like a death knell in mind. Over and over and over and over. When I took it out today, I could literally just snap branches off with my fingers. Plus it had lost that lovely color–it was a sort of green-ish yellow generally found in battle-field hospital tents. Even though I take the lights off outside, I still leave an inch-thick trail of needles from the window out the front door. There are needles all down in the threshold, and don’t even get me started about the window sill. People are sometimes shocked that I take things down so early, and they always tell me how they leave things up until after the new year, but if I left that thing up until then, it would just be the skeleton of a Christmas tree with a pile of needles under it.
Now that everything is packed away, I feel such a sense of relief. Everything is reasonably neat and tidy, and things are where they are supposed to be. As I sit here and write this, I can look over and see out the window with nothing impeding my view. The floor is clean, the window is clean, the tree is over the hill, and my mind is calm.
Think of it this way–that tree is now providing nutrients to the soil, and a home to some little woodland creatures. That’s why I do it. Because I care about nature.