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Last Christmas Tree Standing
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I guess I always felt a little guilty about keeping a sacrificial tree in the house at Christmas. Maybe that's why I was reluctant to dispose of my trees. Most years I'd leave them up until the second or third week of January. As long as they stood in the corner decked out in lights and ornaments, their browning needles covered with layers of tinsel and artificial icicles, it was easy to ignore the reality of the situation.

The reality became only too clear, at last, as the water in the holder was never consumed, needles piled around the base, limbs drooped and twisted grotesquely, spilling glass balls onto the floor. One morning I'd get up, and see a denuded skeletal object, frozen in rigor mortis, bowed under the weight of dangling strings of lights. I had a wooden corpse propped up in my living room.

And then what? The tree pick-up day had long passed. It cost extra to have trees hauled away after the first week of the year. And the holidays were expensive back then. If only the body could fit into a heavy duty trash bag. There was at least one of them left in the closet.

In those days, K-Mart boasted a liberal return policy. If an item did not prove suitable it could be returned, no questions asked, so long as you had the receipt. Checking to make sure the car's gas gauge was not too far below empty, I drove to the store and purchased the only saw they sold.

It was a hacksaw, of sorts. Made in Taiwan. Apparently there isn't much to hack in Taiwan. I'm not sure what you could cut with it. Cheese maybe. Or your wrists. I set to work on the tree.

An hour later I was bleeding profusely. I'm not so sure I don't still have dried out pine needles buried in my flesh. But the the remains of the tree had been dismembered and hidden in the trash bag to be picked up by the unsuspecting sanitation workers.

The saw was in only slightly better shape than the tree. I took the twisted thing and the three broken spare blades back to K-Mart.

The store was good as its word. No one asked how I had managed to run over the saw with a steamroller, bury it in a landfill, dig it up and lend it to King Kong, just as Godzilla came along looking for a Taiwanese hacksaw, in less than two hours. Nor did they remark on the bloody fingerprints on the receipt. In fact they refunded my money very quickly indeed.

It was enough to buy gas to get me home for the final end of the holidays.

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