I like to put off for as long as possible the throwing away of the Christmas tree — both because I love the way it looks, all colorful and aglow … and because I like putting things off for as long as possible.
Left to my own devices, my lack of Christmas-tree-disposal enthusiasm can sometimes result in the transformation of a Christmas tree into a Cinco de Mayo tree … but my hand was forced this year — which is how the tree came to be planted in a snowbank a week ago yesterday.
“We have to get that tree out of here,” Wonder Woman said to me a couple days prior to the tree’s eventual eviction. “It’s starting to stink.”
I, too, detected a foul odor … but nowhere in my memory bank of 40 or so Christmases could I locate a single instance of a Christmas tree emitting a foul odor, regardless of how bone dry and decrepit it had become.
“That’s not the tree,” I said scornfully. “There’s gotta be a piece of food under the couch … or a body … or something,” I added, without actually looking for whatever was producing the smell … because I’m helpful like that.
A day or two later, however, the smell had become, shall we say, more pronounced, and damned if it wasn’t coming from the Christmas tree. (Quick note to temper the excitement of those among you who may be hoping for a punchline involving a long-dead animal decomposing in the tree: it ain’t that good. Sorry. Also: I can’t be the only person who thought of that, right?)
In addition to procrastinating about things like Christmas-tree removal, I also have a tendency to pick the most inopportune of moments to finally tackle such a task … like, say, late afternoon on a Tuesday when Wonder Woman is at work and my two on-the-verge-of-a-meltdown children are in my sole care.
But, hey, I knew it would only take a moment to lift the tree from the base, place it in the ever-so-helpful-and-convenient Christmas-tree bag (thereby eliminating the need for any kind of major pine-needle cleanup) and whisk it oh-so-easily down to the curb.
Of course, I couldn’t find the ever-so-helpful-and-convenient Christmas-tree bag, which had been in the basement since last Christmas, and which I’d seen and/or moved on a handful of occasions throughout the year, so I know we had one … and I know it’ll turn up again in, say, June … which is why I won’t buy a new one come next Christmas, because I’ll remember having seen it over the summer … but then the Gremlins will hide it once more, and the cycle will start anew. Which reminds me: my wallet went missing about the same time as the Christmas-tree bag. Fucking Gremlins.
OK, no biggie: I figured I could mitigate the problem by placing the lower portion of the tree in a heavy-duty, contractor-grade Hefty bag.
Note for the Gremlin-plagued masses who can’t find their ever-so-helpful-and-convenient Christmas-tree bags, and who are contemplating mitigating the problem by placing the lower portion of their trees in heavy-duty, contractor-grade Hefty bags: there’s a reason Hefty doesn’t advertise the bag in question as being useful for disposing of Christmas trees, and that reason is that it totally isn’t.
At that moment, a calmer, more well-thought-out and level-headed person would have postponed the Christmas-tree removal to the following day, with the intention of first procuring a new, ever-so-helpful-and-convenient Christmas-tree bag. Please keep in mind, however, that I am infinitely capable of being neither calm, nor well-thought-out, nor level-headed. Please also keep in mind that the tree stank like a 10-day-old alpaca carcass in a greenhouse. There would be no waiting.
Had the tree been slightly more dried out, and had there been enough of a static shock produced when I touched it, I’m fairly certain you’d have seen the mushroom cloud from miles away when said tree exploded. Fortunately, no combustion took place … though there was a spectacular and prolonged explosion of pine needles that covered both my town and a couple of adjacent municipalities.
As I was down by the curb stripping the lights (and, indirectly, the few remaining pine needles) off of the very dead, very dry tree (which, on a more positive note, made it incredibly light and easy to carry), I glanced up at the house and noticed Zan gesticulating in the bay window and trying to mouth to me through the glass something of apparently great importance. I motioned for him to go to the front door.
“There’s an ornament in the water that the tree was in!” he hollered after opening the door.
“Alright, that’s no problem, buddy,” I assured him, unclear as to why he seemed so distressed.
When I got back inside, it seemed that removing the tree had not only failed to diminish the vile odor, but had actually amplified it.
“Look, Daddy, look!” said the kids, pointing to the red bowl of the Christmas-tree base, in which floated the decomposing remains of a reindeer ornament, the body of which had been constructed from a dog biscuit.
Now seriously, folks: of all of the places an ornament could fall, it fell through the narrow opening of the round blanket covering the Christmas-tree base and into the water, and of all of the ornaments to accomplish such an unlikely feat, the one that did so just so happened to be a perishable-food substance? You can try to convince me that the universe isn’t intentionally fucking with me, if you like, but I promise that you’d be wasting your time.