I have noticed that people here in Georgia decorate their Christmas trees almost immediately after Thanksgiving. Then, the day after Christmas, their trees are gone. As for me, I am lucky if I manage to decorate my tree two days before Christmas.
After moving here some years ago, I tried to follow the local tradition. In the beginning, I used to put up a live fir tree; nowadays, I only do it occasionally. I like how these trees look and smell. The first thing I do after the tree comes in the door is to give it a bath. I dunk it repeatedly in the water, then turn it over and over. That rids it of all the invisible dust, dead needles and possible spiders. Then I refill the tub and leave the tree there for 24 hours, so it can soak up as much moisture as it can hold. Afterward, the reinvigorated tree gets a good shaking, is patted with towels and stood upright with its trunk placed in a bucket full of water, to keep it fresh. And there it stays, with water added every day, ‘til the time we part.
You must agree that finding a real live tree and getting it ready for its holiday trimmings are not small matters. So, I reluctantly bought an artificial tree. Even if it must be assembled every time, an artificial tree saves you a lot of trouble.
I enjoy the process of decorating. Lots of good memories come to mind when I look at each adornment. I fall in love with my Christmas tree, which is full of shiny little objects, garlands, tinsels and blinking lights, and I do not want to part with it too soon. Its lights stay on day and night. Each morning, I look at it with a new surprise and admiration. It is a piece of art to me that becomes a friend and almost a member of the family. Surely, it is not only for my children that I put up a Christmas tree. Mostly, I do it for myself.
Then comes the time—and for me, that’s late January—to start thinking about taking it down. I hate removing the decorations. For one, it’s a time-consuming process. I don’t ask for help though: I have to do it my way—slowly and thoroughly. However, I am always too busy doing errands or fun things, and I dread that sad appointment with the tree. So, it stays all through February, and becomes a reason for some discomfort when visiting friends show their surprise on seeing this remnant of Christmas.
By March, it’s an embarrassment, but I still seem to be too busy as well as reluctant to undertake the always unhappy task, and the tree still looks beautiful to me.
What to do? Move it from the living room to the master bedroom and away from the eyes of the friends. How to do it? My plastic tree is big, and it gets disjointed easily if lifted. But the job has to be done. I unplug the lights, get down on my knees and grab the bottom of the trunk. Then I pull it toward me and crawl two steps backwards. And I pull it again and repeat the same action over and over. Thus, we inch along, and it may look like my queen tree is walking me, her four-legged friend, going in reverse.
It’s June now, and my “evergreen” companion, still jeweled up, is right here, standing by me, winking at me with its lights. “What are we going to do with you?” I ask the tree.
Now, listening to my story, you may think that I shall keep it till next Christmas. And there’s where you are wrong. I would not want to miss the joy of decorating my tree for a new Christmas. Besides, the ornaments may get dusty. Thus, I part with my beautiful friend right in the middle of the year.