Friday, December 07, 2012

The Annual Visitor

There it sits with patience, or is it insolence, in a dark corner of the basement.  Plastic green sheeting with bright red handles protects it from dust and mice droppings.  Every year it gains weight.  What does it eat down here?  It has melded into its little corner with such fossilized determination and like a big fat dog it fights our every tug and pull to break it free from other large unidentifiable objects.

Finally it falls between us with a soft whoosh like a beached green whale just inches from our toes.  Hubby lifts the heavy end and I lift the other heavy end.  We both grunt and groan and wonder if we really want to do this.  Every year we put off the task until we reach a tipping point in time.  The lump gets bumped and dragged past the covered unused dining room table, past the antique doll house and over the threshold toward the stairs.  This is where we wipe our brows and put our courage to the sticking place.  At our age this could be a life or death decision.

With hands tightly grabbing canvas and stitched pulls we drag it ever so slowly over each wooden step up to the main floor using our (my) body weight to prevent it from running back down the stairs and taking me with it.  At the main level it is like a heavy dust mop as we pull it down the hallway.  It accordians various throw rugs until it reaches the designated place: the bay window.  This means we no longer have a place to eat breakfast.

We should feel successful at this juncture, but an even greater effort and struggle awaits us our expended energies.  We catch our breath.

Hidden in the dense plastic branches, there are green tips to match green holes, red tips to match red holes and black tips which are impossible to see to match anything.   Then buried deeper in the darkness of the plastic pine needles, there are numerous male and female plugs, so many that we have never been able to count them all.  One year long ago when I was determined I labeled them AA, BB, CC, DD.  We have never again found the DDs in the dense green.  There is one string of lights that no longer lights (perhaps related to the DDs) and we must add our own little string across that area.

After an hour in which we do not swear because it IS the holiday season, we have a perfectly symmetrical plastic tree in place.  It does not smell of pine, but smells of age and mildew, a perfect tree for old people.  We tweak the ends of various wire branches turned inward like the bowed head of a timid dog that has been subdued by its master and does not want to be here.  Then we decorate each branch in red and gold glass ornaments because it is an adult tree with sophistication and no whimsy as all the family ornaments have been given to the children now that they have their own homes. 

Once it is lit sharing all its glory we remember why we go through this every year.  It cleans up pretty good and so does my floor!


19 comments:

messymimi said...

Well worth the effort!

Happy Holidays!

SueAnn Lommler said...

I agree...so worth it. I love lit Christmas trees...always make me feel better
Hugs
SueAnn

Angie said...

It is beautiful! Love it's place of honor too.

Olga said...

That is the perfect spot for a beautiful tree.

Rain Trueax said...

pretty tree and nicely decorated; and if i ever did a tree again, I'd get a plastic one as we have allergies to the trees. I did get the artificial greens which work great as Solstice decor but this year we're on the road to tucson and won't do christmas decor either place

Suldog said...

It's lovely. Great line about the NOT smelling of pine!

Kat said...

It was worth it! It is gorgeous!

This post makes me laugh. I remember when I was in high school (I am the youngest of 6 in my family) my mom said she didn't want to put up the tree. I thought she was the biggest scrooge ever, but now I get it. It is a lot of work! And I have done it nearly as many times as she had at that point. Good grief!

Still, it is nice when it is all up, isn't it? Lovely. :)

Linda Reeder said...

After almost twenty years with our heavy, assemble branch by branch artificial tree, we finally invested last year in a new tree, a tree that comes in just three sections, each of which unfolds like an umbrella, and is pre-lit with bright, multicolored lights. It is so much easier, which is a good thing, because we still have forty plus years of accumulated and treasured ornaments to put on.

Peruby said...

Ugh. Mine is up. We too, have a strand of lights out. I must get some matching ones at the store.

That is as far as I got.

I can't find that darn skirt!

Mage said...

Just wonderful. What a wonderful essay...you are such a delight. So glad you are feeling well enough to haul that behemothic creation up the stairs. We have cheated. We donated the big tree to the Cancer Society and now have a 4 foot table tree.

Yours is splendid.

ladyfi said...

Loved this story of your tree with a life of its own!

Brian Miller said...

yay i like your tree....smiles...i love to decorate at christmas...not a fan of putting the lights on the tree though...haha....

Anne said...

It's just lovely. It may even motivate me to put one up myself. One year Jerry and I (when we were alone for Christmas) cut an unwanted limb from the cedar in front of the house, put it in a bucket of water, hung it with ornaments and had a Christmas branch instead of a Christmas tree. There's another branch that needs to come off.

Lynn said...

I too am glad you felt well enough to put up your tree. . . . it’s lovely in the bay. Enjoy!

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

How beautiful...

Mage said...

Just delightfully too. Just lovely. :)

I remember one early plastic tree we got at a yard sale that biodegraded. The smell grew until each year we hated to open the box. Now we have a small tree.....which doesn't smell but does amuse me if not G.

millie garfield said...

A perfect spot for a very beautiful tree!

Pauline said...

The picture you painted made me chuckle. The tree looks lovely in its place.

My cottage is too small for a regular sized tree but this is the first year since I've returned to my hometown that I've not lopped the top off some twisted tree I helped plant at a local Christmas tree farm when I was a child (over a thousand of them!). I'm not here long enough to tend to it. I've set up a small ceramic tree made years ago by a friend and will, instead, enjoy the fresh trees my daughter and son decorate when I visit their homes.

colleen said...

The glass reflection makes it really pop!