O, Tannenbaum II

There was a time in my life when I was very tolerant of cleaning up after others. I’m not just talking about before my kids were potty trained and I had to do things like change a diaper on a commuter train bathroom floor (the horror, the horror), but also back before my kids were born, when I had roommates who didn’t see the point of staggering all the way to the bathroom to puke—not every time, at least. But not anymore. Maybe it has something to do with age, or maybe it’s the fact that as the mom, the messes always seem to trickle down to me (literally), but as time has passed I have become less and less tolerant about cleaning up the messes of others. This is true for any mess, of course, but the messes I am particularly adverse to cleaning up lately are the ones involving bodily parts and/or bodily fluids.

Hey, drink all you want (is my motto)—just don’t come to my house when it’s time to puke. By the the same token, I’m glad that you have finally decided to attend to some personal hygiene issues; however, that doesn’t mean I want to find your fingernail clippings on my kitchen counter. And I shouldn’t even have to mention that the only place I want to find your urine (or for that matter, my own) is inside a toilet.

That’s not being unreasonable, is it? All I ask is that when you come to my house you keep your parts and your fluids to yourself. And if you can’t, well, then maybe you should’ve stayed out in the forest where you belong.

That’s right, I said forest. Because the “other” that I’m talking about here, and the one whose messes really get on my nerves lately, is none other than my yearly nemesis: the Christmas Tree.

You think your Uncle Bubba is bad with the way he chews off his fingernails and spits them on the floor? He’s nothing compared to a Christmas tree dropping its needles. At least Uncle Bubba only has ten fingers (well, nine actually—people named Bubba always seem to be missing one or two)—a Christmas tree has dozens of limbs. And when Uncle Bubba has a few too many PBRs and lets go, at least he was trying to make it to the bathroom. Or the back door. Or the kitchen sink. A Christmas tree will gleefully drop sap on the floor from the front door all the way to the spot you finally wedge it into.

And “wedge” really is the operative word here. Most people I know don’t live in houses that are big enough to contain a bit of shrubbery year round, which means the Christmas tree must occupy a spot that was formerly being used for something else—like the couch. Or a hall. This means that it is always in the way. Sure, Uncle Bubba gets in your way, too: but at least he will attempt to move when you are trying to carry in an armload of firewood—a Christmas tree will just stand there like an inanimate object.

I know, I know: supposedly, a Christmas tree is an inanimate object. The thing is, I have my doubts about that. There have been plenty of times when I have placed our tree securely in the stand, watered it for the night, and then went to bed, only to find it sprawled out on the living room floor come morning. It’s not in the forest anymore, so it’s not like the wind knocked it over.

This, of course, begs the question: “If the Christmas tree falls in the living room, and nobody’s there to see it, who has to clean it up?”

Never mind. I think I know the answer to that question already.

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