Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Feb. 1, 2013

O, Christmas tree

It was a month after Christmas, but like other years, it was with a touch of sadness I prepared to take down the tree.

Since I married husband Art 25 years ago, I've become accustomed to leaving the tree up long after the holiday has passed. It wouldn't be my choice, but he likes it. And I must admit that the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are often so hectic that we don't have time to enjoy it much. It is also true that I do savor coming home on cold winter nights and turning on the twinkly lights. Leaving the tree up throughout January seems to extend the holiday season.

But it was time. The branches were droopy and there were needles on the carpet. I had taken most of the ornaments off the night before. The strings of lights were all that remained. Art is our expert "light hanger" - and he doesn't skimp. So by the time I unwound the 300-plus lights from the branches, an additional layer of dry needles covered the floor. Every year, I relearn why they call them "needles." Their sharp points dug into the carpet and a few even became embedded in my slippers.

I wondered if I would be strong enough to drag the tree across the carpet and then get it through the deck door without slopping the remaining water from the stand onto the floor. After herniating a disk in my back a couple of years ago, I take more care now to not hurt myself. I am not eager to repeat that experience.

The old sheet I had placed under the stand before Art put the tree up came to my rescue on the first part of the problem. It was relatively easy to move the tree by tugging on the sheet.

All I had to do then was open the deck door and get the tree outside. But that step was complicated by a feline case of the "the grass is always greener." Our cat Cookie is always looking for an opportunity to go outside. In contrast, our neighbors' cats are always looking for an opportunity to come inside! So as I prepared to open the door, I was under the watchful and opportunistic gaze of our fine feline companions.

But that problem turned out to be no problem at all. As I pulled the tree through the doorway, the crackling branches, flying needles and pine cones popping free from the dried limbs scattered the cats in all directions.

As I gazed on the dried hulk on our deck, I confess I was pleased with myself! It had proven to be easier than I had expected.

I briefly considered leaving it there, but it was such a sunny, warm January day that I decided I'd take it one step further. I pushed the tree onto its side, unscrewed the holders that had had done their kob of keeping it standing straight and tall in the living room and pulled off the stand. All that remained was to get it off the deck.

I sized up the situation and decided I could hoist the tree up onto the hand railings for the stairs. Once that was done, with just a slight push, it went flying down to the ground like a train heading down a steep hill with no brakes. I rolled it across the yard and over the small hill behind our house. There it joined the skeletons of past Christmas trees.

With the most physically demanding part done, I walked back to the stairs, climbed the steps and returned to the house where the most tedious part awaited. I grabbed the broom and went after all of the fallen needles that formed a virtual carpet from the living room to the deck and on down the steps. Then after a complete vacuuming, only rearranging furniture was needed to return things to normal.

Once done, it felt oh so good.

Then I also felt a twinge.

The Christmas season is the capstone to the year. And so for me, while the tree is up, the year continues and I don't think much about the one that lies ahead.

But no more! Now that time is here. The old year is truly gone and the new one, for good or bad, is coming on fast.

Our "girls" with some of their gifts before this year's tree.

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Earlier columns from 2013 may be found at: 2013 Index.
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