Remember when I dragged my family through acres of Christmas trees in my quest to find the perfect addition to our holiday home? Remember the love and affection I had for our beloved tree and the personal attachment I forged after hours of sawing, forcing, and bending its way into place? And remember how I embraced the tree in an almost pervish way before releasing its limbs in true Christmas glory?
Well, today, I’m sorry to report that we have lost the beloved Treemaximus.
Perhaps if I had just unpacked and repacked a box of fringed pipe cleaners I wouldn’t have been so attached. But Treemaximus and I had a special bond.
Where everyone else saw problems and size issues, I saw holiday glory. Blinded by its undeniable beauty, I ignored logic and proudly pushed, pulled, and dragged Treemaximus through our front door. Once in place and decorated, its pine-fresh aroma fused with the aura of ornaments and lights to fill the room with holiday charm.
When you put this much effort into something and share an almost hyperbolic love for it, it’s hard to let go. It’s hard to say goodbye. How do you know when it’s the right time to box up the ornaments and pay respects for a holiday tradition well done? December 26th? January 1st? “When,” I would ask, “WHEN?”
Well, now I know. And I’d like to share this little Christmas tree disposal tip with all of you.
When your tree begins to smell like putrid death? It’s time.
When Treemaximus first entered our home, it was a giant air freshener. If you can imagine 3,000 cardboard-cutout Christmas trees dangling from your rearview mirror, that’s what it was like. But by the time we extricated Treemaximus to the curb, it smelled more like 3,000 dangling corpses.
I’m not a tree guy, so all of you Arborists can tell me if I’m wrong, but I believe trees of this size develop lungs, veins, and internal organs. I say this because something had to die a slow death for it to smell this badly. This wasn’t old sap and wood. It was rotted flesh.
It wasn’t so bad when the tree was upright. We only noticed the smell when we went to add more water to the tree stand, and that’s when we knew its time had come. I had no idea trees even possessed this ability, but be forewarned. When you tilt a rotting tree on its side to remove it from a tree stand, its defense mechanisms will kick in and unload a stench like a threatened zombified skunk.
It. Was. Awful.
And in one final act of defiance, Treemaximus left behind an oozy trail of tree slime and roughly 90,000 petrified pine needles on our floors that were sharp enough to impale feet through socks.
On the upside, our floors are nice and shiny. On the downside, the sheen is the result of tree death.
It took a heavy dose of bleach and wood floor cleaner to at least mask the smell but the pungent stench still punches you right in the face when you enter our foyer. Then it clubs your nostrils and coats your sinuses before finally coming to rest in the long-term memory regions of the brain.
I’m not expecting company, but if a CSI team were to make a surprise visit, their departure would soon be followed by a search warrant.
Perhaps there’s something to be said for artificial trees after all. While you miss out on the thrill of the hunt and the personal satisfaction of cutting down your own tree, I could at least try and replicate the pine aroma by using some of these as ornaments:
Treemaximus, you served us well. You made our holidays brighter and our home more cozy. You were the epitome of pine-scented eye candy and your presence would have made Normal Rockwell cry.
But alas, you smelled like death. And as much as I wanted to keep you, I want to keep my wife even more, so I had no choice but to kick you to the curb.
Go forth, ye old sapling, and know that your beauty has set the bar high for all of those who may follow.