a funny thing happened on the way to my life….

It’s Raining Pine Needles in My Living Room

tree 005We should have listened to my seven-year old daughter while we were at the Christmas tree lot.  She lobbied for a Frasier, but we went with the Balsam–that was our first mistake.  Its intoxicating pine fresh scent had us fooled (not to mention it’s slightly cheaper price tag.)  We took the Balsam and left “Stacy” (my daughter had already named the Frasier) to another couple who had been obviously eyeing it like a hawk that afternoon.  About a week after we decorated the tree my son started to say, “Mom, it’s not good when you can see through your Christmas tree.”  It was our second clue.  When your dog shakes off pine needles like she just stepped out of a bath…that’s called strike three.

You know it’s time to get rid of the Christmas tree when the ornaments start taking themselves down!

So it’s the second week of January.  It had to come down sometime.  I mean, my little girl’s birthday is just a few days away and we can’t have birthday photos with a tumbleweed Christmas tree in the background.  So I bit the bullet and took the tree down—but not before I could make an event out of it.  Christmas Blend Starbucks coffee, peppermint candy canes, and my favorite Christmas DVDs playing…I started taking off the ornaments that hadn’t already surrendered to gravity.  It was a sad day.

Sad because not only was I taking down all the festive Christmas decorations, but sad because this meant another year had slipped through our fingers.  Sad because the kids’ break from school had run its course. Sad because all the holiday cheer has been replaced with dieting resolutions and “organize your life in 2013” mumbo jumbo.  And a whole lotta sad because I had a Christmas tree mess unlike any other!

You always have battle scars when you opt for a real Christmas tree.  Little scratches and scrapes during decorating…and don’t forget the sap, uugggh!  Plus, the occasional water spill and of course–pine needles.  However, this year’s Christmas tree outdid itself in the pine needle department.  They started falling off about a week in.  Then we noticed small piles of needles starting to form on the tree skirt.  Soon after–when the living room was quiet–you could hear the pine needles fall through the tree.  It quickly escalated to sagging garland, the strand of lights slowly inching toward the floor, and the occasional ornament falling in the night.  Before long we began to worry whenever someone opened the front door and a breeze swept in.  I yelled at the kids about running past the tree too fast and setting off a needle avalanche.  We tried to keep up with the needles through the aid of our Dyson vacuum cleaner, but after a while I started to worry that we were actually damaging the Dyson.  And forget about it when the UPS guy came the door–I promise that tree almost came tumbling down when the dog raced to the window to let out her warning barks. On Christmas morning there wasn’t an ounce of snow outside, but there was a nice prickly layer of pine needles dusting every gift.  And then we left town.

When we returned we couldn’t turn the lights on the tree anymore…fire hazard.  My niece caught wind of it on New Year’s Eve via a Skype video call.  She wondered what HAPPENED to our tree!  Her comment spoke volumes.  We all knew it needed to come down.  I actually sort of wanted it to come down (and I NEVER want to put the tree away…I secretly want it to be Christmas all year!)  Still, it was painful to look at and I would have probably paid someone to take it down for me at that point if I thought we had any takers.

One week later we were all sort of used to the newly dubbed “tumbleweed tree.”  Its falling pine needles had become just a regular household sound like the squeak in the kitchen floor.  Whenever I walked into the living room I would just waltz over to the tree, inspect underneath, gather the fallen ornaments, dust off the pine needles and put them on the table.  A small pile of ornaments had started to emerge when I decided that I was all out of excuses.  There were other things that needed to get done, but the tree won out today.  It’s ugly, shabby appearance had already forced me to tell the children that their friends couldn’t come over and play until I had taken it down (and I said that four days ago.)

It took hours and I’m still not technically done putting all the Christmas decorations away, but removing the tree was a big start.  Of course, a zillion needles fell out in the process, it took a broom, a dust pan and about 30 minutes with the Dyson to get things looking good (although I still wouldn’t recommend walking where the tree used to be in your bare feet!)

tree 004I know we’ll do it all again next year and the year after that…although I’ve been eyeing artificial trees in the clearance section at Wal-Mart (wink, wink).  But for now the living room has resumed its regular homey look, the children can have their friends over again, and the branch that used to be our tree has a nice new home up against the fence in our backyard.  And who knows how long it will stay there….

The perfect Christmas tree?  All Christmas trees are perfect!  ~Charles N. Barnard

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