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!