I figure it’s time to take down the Christmas tree when the lights haven’t worked for two weeks, there’s a mysterious lump under the tree skirt that resembles petrified reindeer poop, and local landscapers offer to buy the pile of mulch in the corner of my living room.
I hate to take down the Christmas tree because as long as it is in the room, that corner is as close to decorated as it is any time during the year. I have teenage boys in the house. Once the tree is gone, that spot will automatically give way to a pile of cast off T shirts, sixteen pairs of old tennis shoes, and a large tabby cat. Actually, the cat may be lost somewhere in the maze of branches. I haven’t seen him since before the lights stopped working, but every now and then I can hear the angel on top purr. I think she's had a little too much catnip.
When the breeze of the ceiling fan caused a pile of pine needles the size of a sand dune to settle on the floor, the man who promised to love, honor, and teach the teenagers to drive crossed his arms and regarded the Christmas tree with raised eyebrows.
“It's gotta go.”
I came up beside him, licking the sprinkles off the last holiday cupcake. “It could be a Presidents Day tree. You could hang little pictures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on it.”
“The kind of pictures you find on small bills? What if I make it easy and just slip you a twenty?”
“What if I go to the mall and take out my New Year's anxieties on the clearance racks?”
“I don’t have enough presidents for that sort of stimulus package.”
“Well, how long does it take for wood to petrify?” I mused.
“Why do you ask?”
“Maybe we could leave it in the corner all year and pass it off as a sculpture.”
“If dead plants make great sculptures, we have an entire art museum around here.”
The man had a valid point. I’ve killed enough vegetation to decorate a dozen zombie weddings.
I reached for a drooping branch. "According to tradition, all of the decorations should be put away before the New Year starts.
A paw shot out of the center of the tree, snatched the marshmallow snowman off of my cupcake with one claw and disappeared without a sound. A pool of dry needles puddled on the carpet at my feet.
We stepped back a safe distance from the tree. "Let's leave it," I said handing him the tattered remains of the cupcake. "I think the ghost of Christmas past lives in there and he means business."