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(Willie Nelson/Ray Price reference)

Today is decorations day. Usually, the house has long since been SMOTHERED by the Christmas stuff we have. Including the tree, of course. You could suspect with some justification that if we put ALL of the ornaments on the tree that we have accumulated over the years, the tree, artificial as it is, I humbly admit, would simply roll over and die. (Well, if it were alive.)

I am halfway certain that we switched to the artificial tree, not because of my laziness (which was, no doubt, a factor) but to keep trees from dying from the LOAD. It is one thing to cut down a perfectly good tree and stick it in a pot of water and aspirin and hope that it lives; it is quite another to burden it with the memories of your life and hope that it can sustain. It cannot.

I am lying, as you know, if you know me. The real tree, the live tree, the live tree that was dying, seemed to have it in for me. It was ALIVE!!!! If barely, as time went by.

What I mean is that it seemed to enjoy attacking me. There was not a Christmas when I did not come away with arm and facial scars. You cannot properly put up lights in and on a Christmas tree without suffering. I think, in fact, that this might be the meaning of Christmas. But I digress, as usual.

We bought an artificial one when both of our children were old enough to ignore us.

If you have never experienced the raising of teenagers, you do not know what I mean. If you have, you know EXACTLY what I mean. I will let that rest right there.

The tree, yeah, the tree. In the early days, I would go get the tree in the off years, and during the years in between, when paw-paw (aka Santa Claus) was around, he would take the kids out on a hayride or some other event, and they would bring a tree to my house, and it would not fit into the little round ring if you know what I mean, and I think you do, and sometimes would not even fit into the house, and we would be out front with saws and such, shaving it down, while he watched and laughed, evil old elf that he was, and eventually it would fit, not just in the house, but in that little ring that resembles a birth control device (I’m just saying).

Me, I am a perfectionist, or so I have been told, and I would run my hands, along with strands of decorations, up inside the tree, from bottom to top, usually white blinking ones, to offset the bright and varied colors of the ones that would soon texture the outside of the tree, and that is possibly where I came up, from year to year, with the scars that live with me even now.

I was proud of those trees, I must say. None of them were perfect (and that annoys a perfectionist), but they were sweet and good and did the job.

Objectively, I will admit that the trees were non-sentient and not out to kill me. They only wanted to maim me.

They were somewhat successful in this regard, I assure you, but not so much in the decorating of them, as I have tried to describe above, but in the taking down. This is when they became lethal.

It is likely that we kept our trees up too long. After all, other little trees were growing around them by the time we decided, in July, that it was time to take them down. It turns out that if you leave a conifer (a scientific name for a very expensive pine tree, especially around Christmas) hanging out for any period of time after December 25, it is going to die rapidly, or at least pretend to, and then nail you when you (and why is it always ME?) try to extract those decorations and lights that you buried deep within its soul.

Perhaps that is too dramatic, re the soul. I do not believe that my Christmas trees HAD SOULS!!!

Sorry.

I get carried away about Christmas.

Really though, there is nothing like taking a bare naked dying (or dead) Christmas tree out to the curb. After all of the cuts and scrapes and things I do not even want to tell you about, you are happy that you have conquered the beast, that it is dead and that is out on the curb, and all that you have left to do is to spend five months vacuuming up the needles and such and avoiding them in the first few weeks after Christmas when you are barefooted, if you are silly enough to be barefoot (and most Indianians, Kentuckians, West Virginians and Texans are probably wondering: “What the hell is he talking about? Who ISN’T barefoot?”)

Now we have an artificial tree, and you can tell by how long it took me to get here that I am rather conflicted about that.

Despite all of the nuisance I cited above, is there anything better than a real tree?

Yes. It is called an art!ificial tree. With lights already attached. It can still be a pain in the butt to put up, trust me, but it is a lot better than a dead conifer.

A dying conifer.

When all is said and done, I will put the artificial tree back into its bag and have my son haul it back up into the attic (sometime around July), and all will be good.

In the meantime, and I am finally getting to this (:)), today is decoration day. It should have been done a week ago, or at least the day after I put the tree up (which might have been yesterday. I am losing track of time).

My wife is not here, as I think I mentioned. She is going to watch Scooter for the day. My son, well, I suspect his enthusiasm, although he usually comes through. For the most part, I think, it will be up to me.

Do you not like hanging ornaments? Putting crap, I mean stuff, all around the house? I like it. I really do.

Every ornament has a meaning to me (okay, not the balls, not the balls we bought when we were poor to make sure we had decorations, although, now that I think about it, maybe I like them most of all). I put up the musical instruments that my mom in law has given me every year. I do not remember which year I got which one, but I know who they came from, and I, frankly, love them, I treat them with care, I put them where the cat and the rowdy dogs will not get to them.

The ones, the balls, that celebrate Erin’s arrival, Ryan’s arrival, I almost cry when I hang them up, wondering how I got this old this fast.

Every one of them has a meaning to me.

That happens today.

I am really glad to be alive.

I hope you are, too.

Merry Christmas

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