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The Tree Always Has the Last Laugh

January 13, 2020

I am one of those annoying individuals who thinks a tree in my house at Christmas, just HAS to be a real pine tree. Trees have their way of seeking revenge against people like me though.

I do it because I love the smell. As a child, I sat under the tree and played with the wise men, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, camels, angels, and sheep, while inhaling that glorious smell of pine. I had to inhale as much of the tree as I could because we never had them for long.

Me, my sister and cousins in front of one of the five dollar trees

My dad hated them and would wait until Christmas Eve, then send my brothers to the tree lot with five bucks and tell them to buy the cheapest tree they could find. (In retrospect, this explains a lot about our trees. For proof, look to your left, or see my blog post, A Series of Unfortunate Trees. )And by early January, our tree was gone.

But that tree meant Christmas to me. I love that pine smell so much that each year I put myself through the torment of selecting a “real” tree, (this can take hours – not including haggling) then asking for leftover branches so I can decorate every uncovered inch of my home.

Pine needles plotting.

This annual decision comes back to haunt me every January. After waiting until the last minute to take it down, I drag the tree out by its stump as it winks at me saying, “I’ve left you a little something.” Then its minions get to work playing hide and seek in every corner of my house.

Pine needle conversing with dog hairs.

Even when I think I’ll be smart and buy the giant plastic bag to wrap the tree in, a few always escape. No matter how thoroughly I vacuum, one somehow always magically appears. I Swiffer, and just when I think I’ve gotten in my last swipe, boom! I find another, sometimes several.

Pine needle attempting camouflage

They’re crafty. Sometimes they use camouflage to hide among the pillows of my sage green couch. Other times, I’ll kneel down to pick up something I’ve dropped, and see two or three slouching on the hardwood floor, plotting. If they could, they’d be smoking cigarettes.

I’m sure that attributing nefarious intentions to inanimate objects is a sure sign of insanity. Blogging about it definitely takes it to the next level.

But come July, my whole attitude changes. When I find a pine needle in the summer, I pick it up, look at it longingly and remember those chilly December nights when it was actually cold enough to bundle up with blankets and revel in that piney aroma.

Those pine needle stragglers become sweet reminders of a lovely holiday. I pick them up, break them in half, inhale what’s left of their pine fragrance and go back to being a kid, playing under the tree — completely forgetting that the tree always has the last laugh.

  • Reply
    Fran Tunno
    January 15, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    Also, I love the idea of the soldiers to commemorate your brothers, who were serving. Very sweet.

  • Reply
    Chas Madonio
    January 14, 2020 at 11:39 am

    We gave up on live trees about 15 years ago. Every time we would find one with a poker straight trunk at the tree farm, by the time we got home it developed scoliosis. They were never straight. We had to nail a wire to the wall to hold it up. One year, we had one fall on your brother Bernie. Getting it in the stand and then getting it to stand up became more than we could take, and our patience was exhausted every year. We now have multiple trees – 4 or 5 – I don’t even know how many, but they are all artificial, just like so much of what Christmas has become. Thanks for the trip back in time. I did the same things you did but I played with the tin soldiers that we put under the tree to remember our military serving abroad, which included my 2 older brothers in Korea.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      January 15, 2020 at 2:26 pm

      Chas, I always love your comments and thoughts. Thank you again, so much for always reading and taking the time to comment. I never heard of the falling tree incident. Artificial trees are pretty wonderful, just wrap them in plastic and store them for another year without ever having to take off the ornaments! If they only smelled like pine, I might be swayed.

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