We took down the Christmas tree.
There are two camps of people when it comes to Christmas decorations. The after-Halloween-to-December-26th'ers, and the first-week-of December-to Epiphany'ers. We fall in the latter camp. I can't imagine taking down the decorations while the kids are still home from break. Christmas is at full tilt on Christmas day, with many more days to enjoy family, worship, decor, music and the like.
Christmas day is not the day for tree removal around here!
But this year, we had no options. I actually considered taking it down prior to Christmas, and if you know me at all (or just read the above paragraph), you know how out of character that is. We decided to wait it out, though, and enjoyed Christmas morning around the tree as we have for the last 17 Christmases we've celebrated in this house.
However, when we got home from church, it was all business. The tree had to go. Why, you ask? Because it was dead as a doornail. The needles had been literally falling off for a week-and-a-half or so at an alarming rate. There were needles all over the floor and I had warned the children not to touch the tree under any circumstances. Sometimes they listened, other times they gently touched the tree and listened to the needles rain down as a cool parlor trick to show their friends.
We had cut the tree down at a really fun family tree farm the first weekend in December. The tree was beautiful, huge, and smelled great. I was so pleased with our Norway Spruce. Once home, it looked gorgeous and filled our space beautifully. But it was not meant to make merry for the entire Christmas season, no sir.
So back to Christmas day. My husband and eldest son moved all the furniture and rugs and made a wide berth to the back door (thank goodness we have hardwood!). They dragged the tree to the door, needles falling off with every jostle. Within seconds, this was the situation:
I was called away from dinner prep to help get the thing out the door. My son, my husband and I pulled and pushed the tree into the doorway, only to have it get stuck halfway. We didn't want to force it through and scratch all the paint on the door and wall, but eventually that was our only option (and thankfully the paint held up!). With much effort, we shoved the thing onto the deck, leaving piles of needles in our wake:
Truly, I should have taken a ruler and stuck it in the piles to show you just how deep they were. There were needles everywhere.
By the time we got it out to the deck, there appeared to be nary a needle left on the thing:
(In case you're wondering, we left the lights on until we got it outside to minimize the mess in the house. You can see how effective that was).
Yes ma'am. That is our dead, naked tree, on Christmas day. Our fresh cut, beautiful tree, brittle and dry. I admit that watering a tree is not my forte (and apparently not anyone else's strong suit around here either), but I have never been good at watering Christmas trees, and I have never, never, in my 20+ years of having a real tree seen this occur. One year I recall a tree dropping some needles during the season, but that tree in comparison was a spring chicken to this year's old man.
As my son and husband removed the lights (with gloves on of course, to minimize the pain), my youngest daughter came running into the house with this report: "Mommy, mommy! The needles aren't all gone! Two needles are still sticked on!" Good to know, good to know. We should have left it up a little bit longer!
And today, I ran to Walmart and outside the store, bound and propped up, were several marked-down Christmas trees. They had been there the entire season I would assume, and guess what? They were green and needle-ful. Moral of this story? Buy an old, cheap tree at Walmart next year and enjoy it all the way through Epiphany. Or (as my husband has been campaigning for for years), get an artificial.
But I think I'll take my chances on a real one again next year.