Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Despite the fact that Epiphany isn’t until tomorrow, logistics dictated that ol’ Robbo take down the Port Swiller Manor Christmas Tree yesterday.  (I am keeping my wreaths on the doors and the dining room table for the full duration, however.)

This year, I didn’t have much to do with decorating the tree in the first instance, which was a change for me.  Indeed, once I got it in the ol’ stand and strung up the lights, teh younger gels took over for most of the bauble-work.   I didn’t even try to supervise, pretty much letting them hang whatever they wanted wherever they wanted.  And while I congratulated myself on resisting the urge to micro-manage, I also found that this shift caused a certain sense of, well, distance between Self and the tree that I don’t recall having experienced before.  I didn’t especially care whether the lights were on or not.  I paid only superficial attention to whether there was enough water in the stand.  I looked at the ornamental distribution – vastly different from my own in terms of pride of place,  artistic concept and experience – and shrugged.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this year’s tree was dead to me.  But it wasn’t my baby anymore.

Of course, taking down the decorations is too much like work for my offspring, so I found myself doing this job more or less solo.  And curiously, I found that it reestablished my usual bond with the tree.  All the old elements were there:  the commando ornaments that (unsuccessfully this year) attempted to conceal themselves until they could hurl themselves to the floor when I picked up the tree;  the tangled strings of lights that I swear every December to coil down properly for next year and, come every January, simply throw back in the bag higgledy-piggledy;  the amazing shower of pine needles that we’ll be finding in unexpected corners until next September; the scrapes on the ceiling from when I lift the tree out of the stand; the Tetris-like storing of ornament boxes in my old college footlocker .

Perhaps my favorite part of this ritual is when I drag the tree down the hill and out the back gate to chuck in my brush pile, right next to its predecessors.  Last year’s tree is withered but still contains most of its very brown needles. The tree from the year before is  a trunk with a few branches left.  The ones before that have already sunk into the general mulch.

There is something in this continuity that goes straight to ol’ Robbo’s heart.

Rest in peace, Mr. Douglas Fir.

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