Jay holds a particular animosity toward Christmas trees. He intensely dislikes putting them up, taking them down, and especially hauling them away. The moment I suggest that we go find a tree, he gives a deep sigh and says, “Fine. We’ll go this weekend.” I have tried to discover the source of this sourness. Was he perhaps assaulted by a Christmas tree in the past? Did one fall on him as young child? Was there a house fire started by the lights on a Christmas tree? Did he awake one Christmas morning to no presents? The answer to all of the preceeding questions is, “no.” I’ve tried to cater the event to Jay by playing his favorite Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, while we decorate the tree or by turning on his favorite Christmas music sung by The Rat Pack. This helps a little, but from the moment we enter the tree lot till we finish the decorating, Jay remains in a bad mood.
This year there was a marked improvement, however. As soon as the tree was safely erected in its stand, Jay’s attitude was so much more positive as to cause me to try to figure out what we’d done differently. He quite happily and obligingly hung the lights and the garland, made suggestions on where to hang decorations, and lifted our oldest child on his shoulders to hang the star. We discussed this sudden change in demeanor later, once the tree was all finished and softly glowing in the corner. Jay was as surprised as I was by the change, and we immediately set about trying to discover the reason for the improvement so that we might duplicate the circumstances in future. What we found was that we had switched places this year when putting the tree in the stand. Usually, I hold the tree and try to keep it straight while Jay lays on the floor and tightens the bolts. This typically leads to a prolonged game of “left, right, back, forwards.” This year, Jay held the tree, and I tightened the bolts. We got it right on the fist try, probably because, as Jay says, I have a crooked head, which contributes to the arduousness of the task from year to year. Jay never lets me hang pictures for this reason.
So, all was well with regards to the tree this year until yesterday. Yesterday was tree take down day. Every year, I make a point of noting the day upon which the garbage men take trees. I post fliers for tree recycling events on the refrigerator. Jay inevitably forgets to utilize all of these outlets for tree removal. He will load the tree in the back of his truck and drive it around for a month, vowing to take it to the dump “this weekend.” Then, after every opportunity has been missed, he unloads the tree and devises a new ingenious plan for its disposal. Two years ago he cut the tree in pieces and burned it a bit at a time in our fire pit. Since our area had experienced wild fires two summers in a row, the smoke emitted by the smoldering tree elicited panic from the neighbors, who came out in droves to root out its source. We were just thankful no one called the fire department or the police.
Last year he decided to be a bit more practical and stay under the radar. He again cut the tree in pieces, but he bagged the parts in leaf bags and put out two at a time with the trash every week until it was gone. This year I suspect he’d been planning the tree’s demise for at least two weeks because he was all too quick to spring into action as he drug it out the front door. Our neighbors moved about a week before Thanksgiving, and about a week after, a tree service appeared on site to trim a large oak at the edge of the property, removing several big, overhanging limbs in danger of coming down upon one of the roofs during the next thunderstorm. The service has yet to return to remove the evidence, and there is a rather large pile of tree detritus in the yard. Jay marched over there with the Christmas tree and headed straight for the pile. I stood on the front walk, watching in perplexity. Jay threw our tree onto the pile and marched back to the house. I chuckled and asked, “Do you really think that’ll work? You think they will just haul that off along with the rest and not come knocking on our door?” Jay gave an exasperated shrug, and with a grin answered, “Don’t tell me my business, devil woman.” I shook my head and followed him back into the house. We shall see.