A few years ago, on a warm summer day, I had just come home from where ever I had been. Upon opening the garage door I was startled to find, in my parking spot, a fully assembled six foot tall Christmas tree – complete with lights.
If my wife could have it her way we would have a Christmas tree in every single room of the house. One previous year she had purchased (from someone’s garage) what has come to be known in our home as the “Charlie Brown Tree” – a ridiculously poor quality christmas tree that held the unique distinction of smelling like a mixture of alpine auto freshener and cigarette smoke. It now smells more like Febreeze and Elmer’s Glue (a minor improvement) but the manufacturing quality has only degraded with each passing year. The annual removal of the tree from it’s container always proves both humorous and insightful; what with the growing pile of fake pine needles in the bottom of the bag.
Seeing this new yuletide impostor in my garage stoked my ire… so, I did what any reasonable man would do: I pulled my wife’s van out of the garage, moved the tree to her now vacant stall, then pulled into my own spot.
In our home it is well known that the pet name I reserve for times of severe frustration is “dear”. It’s an extremely versatile endearment that has been used in a multitude of situations. Examples include: “Dear, why are our plants dying” or “Dear, where are the children?” sometimes combined with “Dear, what in the world was that horrible noise”. Today it was, “Dear, why is there a Christmas tree in our garage in your parking spot?”.
As the story goes, she acquired this “deluxe pre-lit tree” from a co-worker at no cost to us. Yes, free. All we had to do was pick it up and bring it home – which my wife gladly acquiesced.
“Well, dear, where do you suggest we store it?”, I asked.
“I don’t know, but we’ll find a spot”, she replied in a way that made me understand that we would loosely translate to you.
I marched back out to the garage with the singular mission of dismantling the festive timber. Upon further investigation it was revealed that “pre-lit” was somewhat of a ambiguous definition. When I hear that a Christmas Tree is “pre-lit” I imagine a series of ingeniously manufactured wires and hinged branches that are durable while also simple to set-up. It appeared that may have been a bit optimistic of me. While, by the purest sense of the definition, this tree was “pre-lit”… it wasn’t done on a cleverly automated over-seas assembly line. No, the six-foot tree was adorned with approximately 500 lights that were carefully (and sadistically) run up and back down the length of every branch… and zip tied every nine inches.
I stared in disbelief for what seemed like 20 minutes. Why would anyone do this?! My hopes of an easy tear down were dashed; there was no possible way to disassemble this tree without first removing all the lights. Grumbling, I grabbed my snips and began working on the tiny plastic ties. After more than fifteen minutes I had a sizable pile of snipped plastic pieces but had progressed less than a foot up the tree.
More angry now, and with hands bespeckled with the tiny pricks from the fake foliage, I reached for my pruning shears. Not the small shears, mind you – this particular tool would have made Tim “the tool-man” Taylor proud. This one resides in that family of shears that bear warnings like Not For Use On Branches Less Than One-Half Inch In Diameter.
If cooler heads would have prevailed I would have first gone inside, sat at my computer, plugged in my iPod, and downloaded the sound track to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho before carrying on with the task. Alas, the thought only occurred to me after the dirty deed was done. Now, reduced to nothing more than a large tangled pile of faux pine and wire, I loaded the remains into the back of my wife’s van and set my sights on the land-fill.
Upon entering the site I learned the following: the little weigh station windows are not situated at a height that is conducive for drivers of mini-vans. I would mostly liken it to pulling up to a McDonalds drive-thru in a Fischer Price PowerWheel. Craning my neck, I learned that they charge you $40 to drop off a Christmas Tree! Oh, and if I got my vehicle stuck, that fee would double just to get me out. I pushed onward, carefully navigating up piles of garbage and past decades of refuse, before finding the perfect final resting place. I exited the van and stepped out onto the surprisingly soft and spongy surface I had been driving upon. Walking to the rear, I opened the hatch, and unceremoniously deposited the relic.
At this point I feel the need to stress that I am not a Scrooge. I am not anti-Christmas. I’m not anti-Christmas trees. What I am is anti-cheap-ass-tree-in-my-parking-spot-in-June. I am also fiercely opposed to accumulating a collection of neighbor’s garbage. I am not Sanford’s son. I’ll admit, I keep my eyes open for a killer deal. If someone is willing to part with a perfectly good item I am more than happy to relieve them of it. That just wasn’t the case here.