M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Tuesday, December 03, 2002  

We finally got our Christmas tree up and decorated. It’s pretty late for us this year; normally we’re decking the halls around Trash’s birthday (which was about two-and-a-half weeks ago, for those of you just joining us). But for one reason and another, we haven’t been able to nail down a big enough block of time to actually finish the job. Until last night.

You want an example of a reason? We have a permanent tree. I say “permanent” tree because in our house, we don’t use the words “fake,” “artificial,” “man-made,” “ersatz,” or any other word in relation to a tree that calls its legitimacy into question. It’s a thing I have. Our tree is fake, is it? Okay, smart guy, put your hand through it. That must be a “fake” scratch on your hand from a “fake” steel wire, right? Be sure and tell the doctor that when the “fake” lockjaw sets in. This ain’t no holodeck, Ebenezer.

As fiercely as I’m willing to defend the tree’s reality, however, I will admit that its years as the ideal holiday icon are behind it. Some of the permanent branches are bent and a lot of permanent needles have fallen off. Last year I had to suspend some of the droopier branches by tying knots around them with the light strings. Which was a pain, but it saved me the trouble of going through that whole tedious light-fixing diagnostic process with those strings this year because in January, Trash had to cut them off the tree with a blowtorch. Saved a lot of time in the long run, really.

So last week I hauled the old permanent tree out to prop it up for one more season. I’ve heard about people who have a tree that’s even more permanent than ours, in the sense that they leave it assembled, decorated, and lit year-round. They just unplug it, wheel it into a spare bedroom, and throw a dropcloth over it for eleven months. I kind of envy those people. Not because I wouldn’t miss decorating the tree every year, because I would, but because I’d like to have that kind of storage space. Of course, we don’t, so the tree gets boxed up and put into a closet in the basement for eleven months out of the year, just like the permanent trees of most normal people. Most normal people’s closets have doors, though, unlike this one. That left our cats free to sneak in there and do whatever.

Which brings me back to the propping.

So, after the propping but before the fluffing (by which I mean the process whereby you spread out the permanent branches to make them more full, but I’m using the word “fluffing” because my Google hits could use a little…oh, hell, fluffing), I noticed a distinctive odor had been transferred to my hands from the permanent needles.

“How do you get cat pee off of a Christmas tree?” I asked Trash.

Our minds raced in tandem, imagining the tedium of cleaning every tiny, fiddly, permanent bit of the tree with soapy washcloths.

“Wanna get a real tree this year?” she said.

Normally I would have said, “That is a real tree” or “Do you mean a live tree?” or something else in a similarly defensive vein. But my hands still smelled like cat pee. I said, “Yep.”

We can only assume that after we took down the tree last year and stored it, but before Strat’s bladder medication took effect…well, you can probably assume the same thing without needing me to spell it out.

We’ve talked idly about getting a live tree one of these years, but it’s never gotten past the talking stage. It never ceases to amaze me how efficiently a shot of cat pee in the right place can put an end to all discussion.

Don’t tell my cat that, though.

posted by M. Giant 5:11 PM 0 comments


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