They say it’s bad luck to leave the Christmas tree up past New Year’s Day, but I follow the Groundhog Day rule. Being a consummate procrastinator, I’m doing good to get my tree down and out of the house by February 2nd. If I fail to meet that deadline, I fall back on the March 5th rule, my birthday, or the Ides of March rule. There was one year when I had to invoke the Saint Patrick’s Day rule. I suppose I’m no worse than our Congress when it comes to getting things done: things done like balancing the Nation’s budget.
I like to get the most out of my scrawny little tree. That’s why I leave it up until the tulips bloom. After all, each year I put up a tree that died for my holiday enjoyment, and it fills the house with the crisp scent of evergreen. I can’t slight my tree and relegate it to the recycling station by some premature artificial deadline. So it follows that I delay the downing of the Christmas tree: bad luck or no.
To get the best deal, I usually don’t buy a tree until Christmas Eve. By then most of the cut trees are losing their needles like I was losing my hair in my late twenties.
I always get a kick out of watching my dogs’ reactions when they see me wrestle the brittle fire hazard into the house on Christmas Eve. They begin by barking, and then they turn circles in the kitchen. They must think the aberration is something to compete with. Having only female dogs, Blaze and Dixie II, at least I don’t have to worry about marking issues.
On Christmas morning, I go down to the basement and knock a year’s accumulation of dust off the cardboard box containing the decorations for the tree. Then sneezing and coughing, I carry the box upstairs to begin trimming the tree. Being well disciplined, I make sure to have the tree fully trimmed by no later than midnight on Christmas day.
I inherited the ragged cardboard box and its contents from my parents. The delicate antique ornaments must be worth a small fortune. If the icicles looked any more real, they’d be melting. Unlike most other things these days, the decorations and the box were actually made in the USA. Dating back to the 1930’s, the box itself should fetch a good price.
The Christmas tree lights probably date back to the 1930’s also because most of them are burnt out. When I get around to it, I’ll replace them.
Once the tree is trimmed, I sit by the warm fireplace with my dogs and enjoy the smell of burning red oak and some Yuletide cheer. Then the dogs get Christmas presents of bones and extra rations.
After I finally do get the tree down and out of the house, I stand it up in the backyard and let it go brown until the Fourth of July. Then after sunset, I salute it, thank it for its service, and set it ablaze. Lit up brighter than it was on Christmas Day, my tree goes out with a well-deserved bang, not with a whimper.