I am sitting in my living room looking at my Christmas tree. It’s the last day of January. I finally got all the ornaments put away, but the tree remains with its lonely string of lights.

If it were a real tree, it would be long gone. Only its sad pretense of reality has kept it standing here, in my front window, where everyone can see it. I stopped plugging in the lights a couple weeks ago. No sense in looking like an idiot in front of the neighbors.

It is a metaphor, my right brain says. You see only trees, no forest. It is a symbol of your inability to see anything but false pieces of reality. (My right brain is definitely a forest person, a metaphoric, holistic, big-picture seeing observer. It doesn’t really care whether I put the tree away or not; it just likes metaphors.)

I’m just lazy, my left brain says. Hey, at least I put away the ornaments. It’s not like it’s going to start a fire or anything.

Actually, I’m more of a root person, as I’ve observed before. This tree has no roots, which is why it provokes no deep emotions in me. I never had a fake tree before. All the real trees I used to put up at Christmas gave their lives to produce a few days of anticipation, joy, memories. They gave up their roots to stand in a bowl of water and pretend to be alive so I could feel less depressed.

This ‘tree’ served the purpose – it held all my ornament-memories, filled the right spot in the living room, and reminded me of a tree.

Today I’ll unwind the lights, fold up the branches, and put it back in the box until next December. I won’t have to drag it to the curb, spraying dry needles everywhere that will get caught in the vacuum hose. It will make a clean, graceful exit and leave no metaphors behind.

O Xmas Tree

When I saw it standing there, between the poinsettias and the plastic lawn Bambis, I had to have it. No strings of lights to get tangled, no needles to vacuum up. It didn’t have any smell, but that’s what scented candles are for. I could imagine folding it up and carrying it down to the basement until next year.
Tonight I sit on the couch in the dark, gazing at its tiny, winking lights, remembering how we dragged the boys through the woods every year to find the perfect tree. It never was. But it always smelled wonderful.

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