Tomorrow, I've got to take down that Christmas tree!

Published 8:35 pm Saturday, January 4, 2003

By By Lloyd Albritton
A Christmas tree is a lot like making love: there's a lot of foreplay.
Christmas Day ducks in and out like a rabbit, a little cuddling afterward, and BAM! the new year arrives. Down comes the tree and to the attic it goes. But, it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes, like a bad lover, the old worn out Christmas tree just goes to sleep right where it is.
Putting up the Christmas tree is actually the hardest part, but it really doesn't seem as hard or dreadful as putting it away because we have the excitement and anticipation of Christmas as a motivation. Christmas trees usually start going up right after Thanksgiving in most families. It has been packed away in the farthest reaches of the attic, so a man is usually needed to fetch it down. This is a task which all men dread and procrastinate and usually only do after much cajoling from their wives. If left to men, there would be no Christmas trees, and probably not much Christmas at all. Some wives are lucky to get their Christmas trees down from the attic in time for Christmas, but most seem to get it down sometime in the week after Thanksgiving.
Though few people go out to the woods and chop down their own Christmas tree any more, many families do still like a real tree and enjoy browsing the sale lots in the nippy December weather to find just the right tree. It's all part of the Christmas ritual, you see. Real trees are a lot messier to fool with and are often so dry by Christmas time that they constitute a fire hazard, but you gotta love that woodsy smell.
Christmas without a Christmas tree is a real dud. My ex-wife took our big artificial tree and all the fancy fixings when she left me in New York and moved to Colorado, but before she left, she went out and bought me one of those dinky little fiber-optic pop-up trees just to show she still loved me-sort of. I put it up the first year I spent Christmas at home alone. The second year I went to visit my children for Christmas and did not bother with it at all. It was an easy fix and a nice thought, but it did not quite do the job that Christmas trees are supposed to do, for decorating the tree is a big part of the fun and ritual of Christmas.
My daughter in Colorado has a large home. Her husband is a bigger-than-life sort of fellow and they have an artificial Christmas tree patterned after the California Redwoods. It's huge and beautiful and calls for a construction crew to put up. Still, a big tree is good and seems to fill a home with Christmas spirit. Of course the size of the tree must be proportionate to the size of a person's home, but generally speaking, when it comes to Christmas trees, bigger is better.
And so, the Christmas tree has a two to three week pre-Christmas life span. The tree with all the gifts piled underneath seem as natural during those wonderful, musical days leading up to Christmas as the Christmas season itself. Then comes Christmas Day and suddenly its all over. Suddenly the tree is just standing there all alone. It's in the way. The furniture needs to be moved back to its regular place. The baby keeps pulling off the decorations. Pine needles are falling all over the floor.
Some people seem to find the energy to dismantle the hateful Christmas tree a day or two after Christmas and I think most people don't feel too badly if they let it linger until New Year's Day. But when the Christmas tree is still hanging around a week after New Year's, through no fault of its own, of course, what was only recently a symbol of the happy holidays quickly becomes an object of scorn.
"Honey, we have simply got to get this Christmas tree down and put away. Can you help me get it put back up in the attic today?"
"Honey? Darling? Sweetie? Now, where did that man go?"
Women dread the task of taking the Christmas tree down and packing it up, but nothing like a man dreads climbing back up into that attic to put it away. When a husband sees his wife looking at that Christmas tree, he knows exactly what she is thinking, and before she can say it, he is gone. Can't be found.
Hopefully, most of us will have our Christmas trees down and back in the attic by the end of January, but there are always a few who leave their trees up all year long. How do people do that? What are they thinking in July when they look over at a fully decorated Christmas tree? What are their friends thinking about them? Thankfully, we don't see this often, but it does happen. More typical are the Christmas lights on the front of the house. Lots of people can't seem to find the energy to take their lights down after Christmas and Rudolph will glow on the shrubs in many front yards on into the heat of the summer. Oh boy, we just gotta get this tree down today!
Was Christmas as good for you as it was for me?
Lloyd Albritton publishes The Albritton Letters on the Internet at, where he also posts many popular movie and book reviews. He invites your comments at

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