Sunday morning descent | Wiscasset Journal


Sunday was a gray day.

And gray is the appropriate color for the day to cut down the Christmas tree.

The holiday season is all about “ahead”. You know the chorus. There are only a few days left before Christmas. Hurry up and buy before the new one (insert present) runs out. Buy your plane ticket today before they increase the prices to catch vacationers.

We see the same litany of ‘before’ every year, as merchants and other business interests, from Amazon, big box stores, local stores just trying to keep the wolf out of their doors, and even our friends at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are trying to make a buck on this traditional religious holiday.

But no one focuses on the “after”. Because the aftermath is just a chore.

A family quest for the perfect Christmas tree is a great time to celebrate the good times we have spent looking for a tree in the past. Setting up the tree without knocking over furniture or inserting a reluctant tree into a passive window or grandma’s precious photo is a skill we learn every year.

Putting on the lights is always a frustrating experience. Every year, the strings you thought you’d put away so neatly last year must have come to life right after closing the lid and participating in a drunken brawl. That’s the only explanation I can give for the tangled mess that greeted me when I took them out this year.

Ornaments, delicate or not, remind us of friends, relatives and children. They are all equal. It doesn’t matter whether they’re fragile European glass representations of castles and kings or Popsicle sticks glued together by children’s hands.

In the end, each Christmas tree is a magical object. None are ever the same. All are beautiful.

But, once the presents are opened, the pudding has been washed thoroughly from Grandma’s porcelain plates, the glittering tree slowly returns to the dark corner as we resume our lives.

Conversations about adornments, bright lights, and good camaraderie return, in no particular order, to politics, football, weight loss, inflation, and Mr. COVID. It doesn’t take long for the magic of Christmas to come back to reality.

Yet the fragrant tree still stands in the corner of the room near a window overlooking the front lawn. Day after day, limb by limb, the bright green needles lose their shine and grip. Soon they start to accumulate on the ground. Such fragile ornaments slide from the branches and decorate the floor with sparkling shards of glass.

Friends who just a few weeks ago praised you for your skill in putting it together are starting to wonder when you are going to take it apart.

This brings me back to a gray Sunday. The best news is that the other day my fiancee and her smiling sister carefully removed the adornments, covered them in colorful tissue paper, put them away in a plastic bin, and had a good fellowship in the process.

The good news is I was able to stand on a stool and unroll the lights without falling onto the couch and landing on my keister or worse.

The other notable news was when I was able to remove the wedges from the cast iron drain that we use as a support without (a), put out one of my eyes (b), overturn it all while flooding the room with the remains of water we used to keep the tree as hydrated as possible (c), pulling it out of the stand and (d), popping it out the front door without triggering a major household incident.

Then all I had to do was sweep up 11 trillion pine needles and throw them in the trash.

Tomorrow we will be rearranging the front room in a manner mandated by the family design committee.

Clearing the Christmas season is a chore we all share. I am sure, dear reader, that you have similar stories of past trees.

But somehow we’ll remember Christmas during a pandemic and smile in the dark as we watch tiny colored lights twinkle through the branches of a fir tree that almost touched the ceiling.

It doesn’t matter if we were masked, vaccinated or ignored all precautions and went commando, 2021 has brought us a Christmas like no other.

May we never have one like this.

Be careful. Be well. Be cheerful.


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