Monday, January 17, 2011


"It's good to look toward the end of things. Not only does it provide perspective, but it also provides the stepping stone to our next endeavor." Deng Ming-Dao

The idea for this post began when I saw the first "post-Christmas" tree lying unceremoniously by the side of the road.

Dead Christmas trees are one of the saddest of all sights. Nothing symbolizes the end of the holidays as dramatically as a succession of dried-out evergreens, stripped of their glittering finery and tossed to the curb.

Now I realize that there is a lot of sadness in the world. Sadness on a scale far larger than another holiday season coming to a close. Floods, mass shootings, plane crashes. I get that. But the writer in me does not want to let this dead tree thing go. I've tried for two weeks now to move past it, and it keeps haunting me. So I'm going to write this and (hopefully!) move on.

So much preparation goes into Thanksgiving and Christmas. Think of all the time and effort spent on decorating and card-writing and cooking and shopping. Everything must be "just so," including the most iconic holiday symbol of all--the tree. Selecting it, deciding where to put it up, decorating it, stacking gifts beneath it--it's all steeped in ritual, even for those of us with faux trees.

Why, then, is the dismantling given such short shrift? No fanfare. Just stashing everything back in the boxes, then bags, then closets as quickly as possible. And getting that tree out of the house.

For me, I think it's because I can't bear the empty feeling that comes with endings of any kind. If I banish all signs of something's existence, then I can forget it was ever there. (A strategy I've also employed with ex-boyfriends.) Is it possible that others feel the same way? Then maybe I can make peace with the sight of all these poor trees. Lying on their sides between sidewalk and street. Cloaked in mantles of dirty snow. Waiting for the recycling trucks to put them out of their misery. That is, until I think about the fact that they gave their lives so we could make merry.

Which leads me full-circle to my fake white tree. I admit to feeling sort of smug about having saved a stately Frazier Fir from this inelegant fate. But I'm realizing there's another advantage to going un-green--albeit a bit self-serving. There is something to be said for a tree you can simply shove back into its box and haul out to the garage. Instantly removing all signs of Christmas--indoors and out.

Kind of makes up for missing the scent of evergreen in my house this year.

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