It took years to reach the decision. Our garage already overfloweth with boxes of ornaments, Costco trash bags stuffed with fake garland, its needles protruding through the plastic like some glactic alien struggling to break free, and tangles of multi-colored exterior lights dangling from nails above the workbench. Where, we wondered, would we store an artificial tree?
But we finally tired of shivering through the Home Depot tree lot to pick out just the right Noble or Douglas, with no more than one bad side that could be camouflaged against the wall, to adorn our home for the holiday season. So last year my husband and I went faux. We would simply find room, we reasoned, even if it meant our out-of-town relatives would have to share our guest room with a needling roommate. We traded the damp drizzle of the Home Depot lot for the comfort of the Sears store at Stoneridge Mall, where we selected a genuine faux fir among those on display.
To our surprise and delight, the 7½ foot tree came in a neat cardboard carton not much bigger than a Barbie Dream House.
“See, honey,” I said, as he wrestled the box into the trunk. “Finding a place to store that little gem will be no problem at all.” I sighed with relief. “No problem at all.”
Sure enough, we cleared out a long-neglected corner in the garage, rearranged the patio furniture cushions, tossed out boxes of old tax returns, and nestled that Barbie Dream tree in there until after Thanksgiving.
It went up in a snap, and all through the holiday season, we admired our pre-lit wonder. We graciously accepted the compliments from our kind, if gullible visitors, all fooled by our simulated spruce. Weeks later, with the festivities behind us, we dragged out the crate in preparation to tuck our tinseled treasure away until next year.
With all the ornaments removed, we disassembled the tree into its three sections, careful not to disturb the delicate light bulbs hidden among the branches. It took no time for us to reach the conclusion that this needling nemesis had no intention of hibernating in that cardboard sarcophagus for the next eleven months.
EASY DOES IT
“I think we need to bend the branches up, then gently push them against the trunk,” I said, watching my husband attempt to cram section A into one end of the box.
“Sweetie,” I continued, “careful of the little bulbs. Let’s try wrapping some twine around the lower branches, then put this bubble wrap around it.”
His man-translator must have heard, “Just keep cramming it in the $#%$ box!”
We tried sweet-talking it. “You’ll like it in the garage. It’s only for a little while, we promise.” Then we tried bribery. “We’ll kennel Fluffy for the whole month of December. Just get in the box!”
Exhausted, our hands raw from fighting the flailing fronds, we strong-armed sections A and B into the bulging, cardboard container. We gave up on squeezing in the little pointy top section. We encased it in a couple of Costco trash bags, thus relegating it to the same fate as the galactic garland from years past.
At last our faux foe was safe and sound until next Christmas. We high-fived and headed to the kitchen for an Irish coffee.
Then it hit us. That spurious spruce would have eleven months locked in its cardboard tomb to plot its revenge.
Oh Gawd. What manner of catastrophe awaited us next year?
We didn’t sleep for weeks.