Christmas is over and done. Some people ditch the tree on New Year’s Day while others wait until Three Kings Day on January 6. From the balcony of my apartment, I watched as my neighbor carried her smallish tree to the dumpster on New Year’s day. I wondered how she was going to fling it over the top of the trash bin. She didn’t; she propped it in the corner of the dumpster shed and walked away.
I have no experience with the Christmas tree discarding rules in apartment buildings. I have always owned my own home, paid for trash pick-up, recycling, and curb-side tree pick-up.
Watching the scene reminded me of a Kick-Ass short story I read some years ago. It was about a woman living in a city apartment who kept her tree up beyond the customary tree pick-up window. Weeks turned into months and then it was summer and her Christmas tree was still in her living room. The story had me in stitches as the author described how she disposed of it, which gave me an idea.
Unlike my sensible neighbor who got a small tree for her small apartment, I got a big, fat, eight-footer which I bear-hugged into my same-size apartment under cover of darkness. Pretty much the lobby of my building is deserted once the sun goes down. I lugged it down the long hallway, maneuvered around the “scooter parking area,” and huffed my way to my door. I leaned the tree against the corner of my recessed entryway, unlocked the big, heavy, metal door, and dragged it into the corner where I had my borrowed tree stand already set up. Whew!
Although my tree was “fresh,” I noticed the pine needles were already dropping. Goodness! Had I left telltale signs in the hallway? A trail of needles leading to my door? I grabbed the broom and dustpan and high-tailed it to the elevator. Yup! I had to sweep up the evidence. I felt like the character in Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” who swept the path away while Alice stood on the lone patch he left as he swept around her.
The fresh pine scent of my enormous tree made me happy. Breathing in deeply with closed eyes took me back to the days when the kids were little, and I overcompensated for being a single parent to the point of buying every single thing in their “Dear Santa” letter, including Teddy Ruxpin for which I stood in line for hours. And then, in January, when the credit card bills arrived and I realized how over-extended I was, and knew it would take me half a year or more to pay it off, some of the glowing joy dissipated. For now, I will live in the moment and enjoy the happy memories.
Three Kings Day is upon us, and I am not ready to take the tree down. Besides, I want to execute the idea I got from that short story, just for fun. Yesterday I snipped off the bottom branches of the dried-out tree, placed the cut boughs into a trash bag and threw it in the dumpster. I will continue to work my way up the tree until I get to the angel topper. I need that angel to bless my space for as long as possible. By then I should be down to the bare naked trunk. Then what?
I am reminded of the time I lived in an upscale condo complex with my two little kids and a Harlequin Great Dane named “Pygmy.” Unbeknownst to me, Pygmy had escaped while in heat, and lo and behold, eleven Great Dane mix puppies were born unto her. I kept them in the two-car garage, but somehow the little imps got into the house and piddled on the carpet. It must have been a group movement because the carpet was soaked! I pulled it up and dried it out in the garage, but then I had to discard it. How?
Oh, I know! Miracle blade! Yes, I had ordered the knife on late-night TV. I was going to put it to the test. I put a tomato on the counter and said to my children, “Watch this, kids! I’m going to cut the carpet into small pieces so we can throw it away in the trash. Then we will slice this tomato and see if it really works like they said on TV!”
“But Mo-om! Ewwww! That’s gross.”
“Don’t worry. We’ll wash the knife before we cut the tomato. Let’s go!”
They watched while I hacked away at the ruined rug. When I had the whole thing cut up into manageable pieces, I filled our garbage can. Filled it. With a lot more pieces left.
I told the kids to hold their arms out and loaded them up. It was the night before trash pick-up and the neighbors had placed their cans outside. “Go around and look for cans that aren’t full and put the pieces of carpet in them. I know a lot of those cans are half empty.”
“Mo-om! This is so embarrassing!”
“Oh, it’s okay. It’s dark out. Nobody will see you. We have to get rid of this stuff. And then when we’re all done, we can cut the tomato!”
It never occurred to me that we were doing anything wrong. I mean the cans were half empty anyway, right?
I can picture myself doing the over-the-balcony tree trunk toss! Will it make a big noise as it hits the pavement? Will I lower it to a waiting accomplice instead? My sweet neighbor downstairs has a twinkle in her eye and an adventurous spirit. However, she is a tiny lady, maybe stands about four feet eight inches. At almost twice her height I’m afraid this tree trunk might take her down. Oh well, there is time to figure this out. I’m only on day two of the denuding.
I think I better measure the width of the dumpster to make sure it will fit. Oh, but wait, maybe I should load it in my car and take it to the forest. Just down the road is a huge redwood forest. Perhaps I can hurl it into a gully and let it amalgamate with the other trees. Maybe it will germinate and create a new species.
Some of my loyal readers have written saying they are looking forward to my antics in 2016. It’s only January 4th and I’m already getting “adventurous!” Even I am anxious to see how the Christmas tree caper ends!