Almost all of us have to experience it.  It’s like going to the dentist with a bad toothache – we put it off for as long as possible because we know it’s going to be worse before it gets better.  But in the end, we know it must  be done.

Yes, it’s the removal of the Christmas Tree.

As you may or may not know, this year’s Christmas Tree was a bit of a late arrival.  For a variety of reasons – scheduling, heartbreak, semi-insanity – I was late getting a tree this year.  Kelsea and I have a penchant for unusual Christmas Trees.  We will adopt a tree that might otherwise not have found a home, just to ensure that it has a loving, happy Christmas and a completely fulfilled destiny. 

Our tree this year was particularly special.  It was a tree that looked as if it had eaten three other trees – a short, morbidly obese tree that we named Chubbs.  Chubbs was adorable.  He was a little tough to fit into the stand, and there was no way in the world that his backside would be decorated.  Not only did we not have sufficient ornamentation for such adornment, we couldn’t reach around him, or move around him, considering his position in the Cottage. 

So Chubbs glowed happily in his corner for four days before Christmas and four days after.  At that point, he became so incredibly dry, that I was afraid to turn on his lights, for fear the itty-bitty heat source would cause him to burst into flames.  It’s not as if we didn’t water him (though admittedly it wasn’t enough).  But no matter how much he drank, he just seemed to get dryer and dryer.  I’m sure there’s an analogy here, but I can’t think of it.

Kelsea and I had talked about taking him down, but we just didn’t get around to it.  She was loath to part with him.  He had been her favorite tree.

So this morning, I took matters into my own hands.  It was time.  I was starting to be afraid to leave the house for fear he would spontaneously combust in my absence (which makes no sense, as he’s just as likely to spontaneously combust in my presence.)  As everyone (except perhaps, you, Idiot) knows, the first step in taking down a Christmas Tree is removing the ornaments.  That wasn’t too difficult.  A few small branch tips came off along with the hooks, but that’s to be expected.  The tinsel was also a cinch – came off like a greased pig.  But then we came to the lights.  Ah yes, the bane of existence of any Christmas Tree dismantler.

It was hard to tell where they started.  I’m thinking next year of attaching some kind of tag to the end of the strand, like people attach to their luggage handles so they can easily identify them when they come shooting out of the baggage claim underworld.  I struggled for a bit.  Unfortunately, we HAD strung the lights all around the tree (I recall now that I had made Kelsea climb over the couch and crawl behind Chubbs to accomplish this feat.)  And there was no way that I was going to crawl back there to unstring them.  Needles were starting to fly as I started to tug on the light strings.  Lights aren’t that expensive, I figured – if  I destroy them, I can get some more next year.  But it wasn’t working.  They were just getting more and more tangled and the room was starting to look like a forest scene from The Lord of the Rings.

Time for Plan B.  Chubbs needed to see the outside world again.

Kelsea and I had worked together to get the little fella in the house, but I knew I could take him out myself.  He wasn’t that big – just wide.  I reached in and grabbed his trunk (that sounds weird) and pulled (even weirder).  He tipped over towards me, like an intoxicated fat man, and suddenly both hands were required to remove him from my face, as I found myself spitting out pine needles.  We wrestled to the door, his whatever-you-call-the top-of-tree desperately clinging to the mosquito screen (which I should have removed once it hit 4 degrees), until I shoved it out of the way.  I was aware that he was dragging things with him, but I couldn’t stop the forward momentum to see what had latched onto him.

We made it outside, me in nothing but my ducky bathrobe (another example of poor planning on my part – note to self: get dressed before taking the Christmas Tree outside) and him with his stand and draping sheet clinging to his feet.   Outside, I was at liberty to yank the lights off with whatever measure of force was required until they were free.  I struggled for five minutes trying to get the stand off – it was as if the tree’s base had grown fatter since we’d put him in the stand.  Finally, both tasks were complete.  I left Chubbs to enjoy some fresh air on the grass and adjust to his new life, and turned to go back inside.  The drape is a wet, winding mess at the doorstep.  How can it be wet?  The tree was like a five-foot tall matchstick.  Wouldn’t it have soaked up any water left in the stand?  Well, apparently not.

Sizeable puddles complete with pine needles have pooled on the tile and marred the oatmeal-colored carpet.  A few magazines that had been on the coffee table are now soggy and rumpled on the floor.  A book that had been on the side table lies in the doorway – apparently, Chubbs had wanted to take it with him.  Perhaps he hadn’t finished it yet.  It is slightly moist and bedraggled.  And pine needles and branches are EVERYWHERE.  Couch, coffee table, carpet, my hair, my robe.  At least they are not in my nearly-cold coffee which, after discouraged surveillance of the damage, I sit down to drink.

The deed is done.  Our loveable Chubbs  is ready for the Next Place.  But he has left his mark behind, in memory and in the living room.  And it’s going to take a while to clean up.