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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on December 27th, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 42 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 42

Kicking it to the curb

There's more than one way to get rid of a Christmas tree

BY SHELLY CONE

While I was growing up, my mom insisted each Christmas on having a fake tree. She gave the same reason she did for not letting us have a puppy: She was afraid it would give us allergies. In reality, I think she didn’t see the point in spending the money to buy a tree only to then hassle with hauling it to the dump to dispose of it a few weeks later.

There was also the hassle of dealing with pine needles dropping to the floor and the cleanup afterward. If you get the tree too early in the season, it starts to become a brittle brown fire hazard by Christmas day. Getting it later in the month was almost pointless because my mom has always been one of those people who starts taking the tree down the evening of Dec. 25, and by Dec. 26 Christmas is packed neatly into plastic bins ready to be stacked in the garage. So from a financial standpoint, it made no sense to spend money on a tree and disposal when you only had that tree a week or two.

Our fake trees were always beautiful, of course. We had the pretty green trees with giant multi-colored bulbs the size of baseballs, which I believe are now banned from use because having a string of high-watt baseball-sized lights on dying, brittle pine trees caused a lot of house fires back in the day. Really, who thought that was a good idea? Then we had the fanciful white trees with the blue and pink decorations. Every year for the respective life of each of those trees, they ushered in a magical Christmas to our household for a brief moment and took it with them when they went back into their boxes.

Anyway, as many a guy already knows, pretty is great for a little while, but without substance behind it, pretty can be pretty unfulfilling in the long run. In this case, the substance missing was that intoxicating pine smell that mingles with the scent of sugar cookies baking and the lingering scent of pumpkin pie—and together those scents create the magic that makes Christmas special.

When I moved out and lived on my own, I swore I would never get a fake tree. Once, I was so broke I couldn’t buy my daughter and me a tree. We decorated the house and taped a string of lights to the wall of my apartment in the shape of a Christmas tree. Whenever someone would stop by to visit and shut the door, it would cause part of the tape to peel off the wall, leaving us with a “melting” Christmas tree on the wall. So we had a few people who offered their extra fake trees to us, but we held fast to our crooked Christmas light tree on the wall until I managed enough money to get a tree from the lot a few days before Christmas.

While getting a fresh tree each year in my younger days sometimes posed a challenge, disposing of the tree created a bigger challenge.

That was the situation in the case of the free-falling tree circa the 1990s. I lived in an upstairs apartment. When I needed to get the tree upstairs, the six-pack of Mormon guys who lived on the first floor helped me and offered to take it down when I was done.

When the Mormons came to dispose of it, one took the top of the tree and the other grabbed the trunk and they easily flung it over the balcony. Then they quickly leaned over to watch it fall. The tree shattered into tiny pieces that they swept up and placed in the trash.

I was married by the time we experienced the suicidal tree. I thought disposing of that tree would be easier, but my husband Ron believes in equal rights—as in, “You can just as easily take the tree to the dump as I can.” So I put the tree in the back of the truck and headed for its final resting place. I got about a quarter of a mile when in the rearview mirror I saw the tree fly out of the back of the truck bed, bounce off of a car, and land right in the middle of traffic.

I quickly turned the car around to get it. As I watched, another car hit the tree, causing it to catch air at the very same moment a big rig truck roared down the street. The tree flew right into the grill of the oncoming truck and shattered. I thought about picking up the pieces but when I took a second look, they were too small to bother risking in traffic. I sheepishly got back in the truck and went home.

The next year at Burning Tree, we’d experience the most moving final Christmas send-off of all. Returning home from my baby shower, I found Ron and his buddies barbecuing in the backyard. Ron still claims he had nothing to do with it, but as I walked into the house I could see, framed by our picture window to the backyard, a perfect scene of a tree quickly combust into flames. The tree went up in one whoosh and instantly there was nothing left but tiny embers silently falling all over my backyard like burning snowflakes. Two minutes later, I would be roaring down everyone’s throat about the stupidity of burning that tree, but at that moment everyone stood there with mouths open, watching this scene that was both astonishing and serene at the same time. You could almost hear Hark! The Herald Angels Sing being softly hummed by the Peanuts gang from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Shelly Cone has considered buying a fake tree and decorating it with pine scented air fresheners to avoid any further tree casualties.