Friday, January 15, 2010

Causalities of the Season

The first carcass appeared the day after New Year's in my neighbor's front yard.

The next morning, a second victim lay smack in the northbound lane of street outside my neighborhood. An elderly man inched his rust-colored sedan toward it, attempting to either drive over the dead or push its remains aside. The rest of us drivers looked on -- some in anger, some in disbelief, but none shedding a tear -- as we looped around this awkward dance.

The body count has grown considerably since then. I even added to the tally this past weekend, humming to myself:

"O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree.
Your branches brown and shedding."

Despite all the discarded christmas treesoptimism a fledging year brings, its first month remains the saddest and bleakest. Inside, holiday cheer gives way to post-holiday bills and broken toys. Outside, it's all tundra whites, dingy grays and faded greenery decaying by the gutter. What hath Baby New Year wrought?

My Love delays this annual misery as long as possible because she hates to see all the festiveness she's hung, strung and displayed in our house disappear. Though I usually have my fill of snowmen singing "Winter Wonderland" in our foyer and shriveled poinsettia leaves crunching under my feet well before New Year's, I relent.

"The house always feels so empty after we've put everything away," she sighs every year, helping disengage my grip on the green snap-lid tote bins for another week.

We compromise with a day of undecking our halls sometime between the season's traditional end on January 6 (The Epiphany to Christians, Twelfth Night to the Shakespeareans) and the third Monday of the month (Martin Luther King Jr. Day to the federal government, Trip to the Indian Casino Day to My Love). Our lone exception is the miniature lights strung around our bushes and railings outside in accordance to the ancient proverb: Better to light a walkway than curse the dark ice.

My main role is tree disrobing and disassembly. Breaking down the artificial conifer in our living room always amazes me because, compared with my childhood memories of the 624 dangerously sharp metal and plastic branches on my parents' old faux tree, this one is a three-piece model of scientific ease. It even fits easily back into the mammoth plastic duffle bag it came with. This probably explains why JCPenney discontinued our particular model.

The live Fraser Fir in my office goes last. This year it was under-lit, owing to my switch to more efficient LED (or Less Exciting and Dimmer) bulbs, but it had lots of character.

The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Cosmo and Wanda from The Fairly Oddparents and other cartoon folk to be exact -- all ornaments picked out over the years by The Things during the annual tree trip to Stew Leonard's in Norwalk.

Then there were the handmade trinkets from pre-school and school years past.

Popsicle sticks with glitter glue.

Die-cut foam and construction paper.

A few made of some strange hardened dough that unbelievably have never been discovered by the dog.

Back into plastic bags and boxes they all went. But not without me giving each a final look in an attempt to recall the initial excitement and wonder that holiday magic brings, only to disappear as soon the wrapping hits the trash bin.

This sentimentality stopped with the final closing of the bin, which for the next 10-and-a-half months -- along with a dozen other bins like it, several yards of artificial evergreen roping and many other seasonal items that hang, light or sing -- will be the sole occupants of our attic.

If, of course, you don't count the dust bunnies.

My wife and I then hauled the fir out the front door and set it next to our mailbox, where I see it now every day alone and cold.

So long, pal. Mulch luck in your future endeavors.


  1. It was all worth it for the "mulch luck" line at the end.

  2. That made me feel kind of wistful. We trashed our tree last wednesday. that day is a special one to our family. It's called "Trash Day."

  3. Aw, did you need to remind me? I'm gonna have to put all the Christmas crap away at the cottage this weekend. It's so annoying, this packing away. Every time I put a tree up I dread the absolute boredom that is taking it down.

  4. LOL... WE dont' buy real trees anymore because of the travesty of their corpses after ward. I'll give a moment of silence...

    Well that travesty and it's easier to maintain a fake tree with a pine candle behind it. :)

  5. I thought my waistline was the first causality!

  6. I just now took down my tree...why does it all seem to go up so easily and quickly yet it doesnt come down as easily or quickly...

  7. Hate to say it, but we've had Valentine's Day roll around with our tree and decorations still up. This year we're taking them down this weekend. Probably. *cough* *if I feel like it*

  8. Oh, my. This year, we're right there with Mrs. DelVecchio. I'm shooting for January 30? Maybe I'll get a stuffed groundhog decoration for under the tree??

    (What a loser I am... sniff. I just can't say goodbye to Christmas.)

    ;) - Julia at Midwest Moms

  9. I already cleared mine and I feel like there is a big hole in the house and in my Christmas-decoration-loving heart.

  10. I have a sweet little 3 foot tree. It's back in it's box, ready to go into the storage closet off my patio. When I can open the door to the storage closet again that is, as it's well shut by a 2 foot drift of snow.

  11. The girls are putting away our Christmas stuff as I type. Not due to sentimentality. Just Greg and my laziness and preference to napping on the weekends rather than dealing with it.

    And they won't let us into the living room until they're done. Which suits our lazy asses just fine.


  12. My grandparents have always had a fake tree. The longest I have seen them go with their tree up, end of April.

  13. Wow, when you look at it like that it's really depressing :-/ When I was a kid I used to cry for our tree when my dad took it away. You just brought back all those memories for me! We un-decorated a few days ago. The pine needles clogged my vacuum cleaner. It was a good little tree -- I loved him :-) weep.

  14. the saddest thing i ever saw was a tree discarded on the 24th. i suppose they were going away for christmas, but still...

    the flip side of that is that my father once bought a tree on the 27th...he'd been away...


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