Sunday, January 6, 2013

Treezilla Attacks

Now that the holidays are officially over, here's some advice to heed for next Christmas. When you're in Cosco and see one of those 9-foot pre-lit artificial trees, remember this: what you put up in December must come down in January.

I speak from several experiences of helping my parents take down a 9-foot pre-lit tree, something that should be easy once the ornaments are off. The tree is designed to disassemble into four parts. But when my parents tried taking it apart the first year after they bought it, it nearly ended their marriage. That tree just didn't want to come undone, and it still doesn't.

Because using WD-40 to lubricate the trunk is out of the question, "Treezilla" is tied up in a huge blanket every year and crammed into an alcove in our garage. The process is laborious and frustrating as we navigate it around the walls, out the front door, and into the garage, and it makes everybody crabby. It's tolerated because we only have to go through it once a year. But we've gone through it at least three times now, and the math is starting to catch up with us.

"No more 9-foot trees," I said to Mom after we finished stashing it away.

For years we had a Christmas tree that came together and apart branch by branch. Everything plugged into a central wooden post. It wore out after a couple of decades, and then Mom decided the fake tree wasn't full enough. We got a live tree one year, and even though it shed needles all over the place, when we were done with it, it went right out the back to await recycling: no dissembling, no blankets, no fuss.

Now we're stuck with an artificial tree that takes up more garage space than it should in the off-season. Mom and Dad insist they got a good deal on it, paying only about $200, but somebody forgot to tell them about the psychological cost of dealing with a Christmas albatross. When you're decorating for the holidays, your spirit, strength and endurance must find a happy median. It goes for all your other decs: house lights, wicker reindeer, full Nativity, plastic sleigh, lighted inflatable Santa on the roof. Eventually a time will come when you realize you can't do Christmas like you used to, and you really don't want to. You've gone from Cratchit to Scrooge.

Buy a tree, but for all that's holly, buy the right kind of tree. Santa doesn't care how full it is, but you will care when it swallows you whole.

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