Walking through the family room, I heard that dreaded sound. Ten days after New Years, our live Christmas tree was anything but. The intermittent rhythm of falling dead pine needles had replaced holiday music.
What I’d loved weeks ago, I now hated. Upon discovering that perfect eight-foot living spruce, instantly I envisioned my ornaments and my children’s handmade trinkets on its’ branches. I knew that Christmas tree would be our most memorable ever, just not why.
After my sons left for school, I telephoned my husband at work.
“Ben, you got a minute?”
“I walked through the family room before and that stupid tree dumped another inch of needles everywhere. You said you’d take it down, but when?”
“I told you, when I have time. Besides, don’t be giving me grief about this when you’re the one who insisted on another live tree. If you weren’t so stubborn, and had bought an artificial tree, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, again.”
“What about tonight?”
“Probably not ... look, I’m swamped … gotta go.”
Click. Ben hung-up before I could say another word.
“Fine Benjamin, I don’t need you to take down the tree. But when you get home, you’ll be as dead as that tree is!” I slammed the phone, fighting back tears.
After brewing some tea and settling into the recliner, I realized the house was chilly. I went into the garage for firewood when it occurred to me.
Why waste firewood when there’s a dead tree inside I can burn? I’ll cut and burn the Christmas tree before Ben gets home. Where’s that handsaw … here it is. What a stroke of brilliance.
I rearranged the furniture and spread out sheets. Carefully, I tipped the tree until it landed on its side. I received a thunderous applause from scattering pine needles. Placing one foot on the tree, I became Pauline Bunyan. Unfortunately, the saw got stuck an inch into the bark. Relentlessly, I pulled and kicked until it loosened.
What am I doing? I just bought Ben a chainsaw for Christmas! That baby can do this in minutes.
The chainsaw, still in its box, sat nearby. Grinning, I removed parts, threw the manual on the couch, attached the chain, plugged in the electrical cord, and flipped the on-switch. Grasping the handle tightly, that power-tool jerked me like a rollercoaster ride. Even the walls shook as I revved the motor.
When the chainsaw struck the spruce’s trunk, pine needles flew everywhere. They looked like arrows flying in an old Western movie. The first log separated from the trunk. An adrenaline rush blinded me to the mess, severing all warning signals of impending disaster. I was woman and the neighborhood heard me roar.
After cutting a second log, I was anxious to build a fire. I scooped handfuls of needles off the floor for kindling. As my match landed in the fireplace, the explosion threw me back several feet. Undeterred, I attacked a thinner branch. Immediately I had to yank the chainsaw back before it cut into the carpet.
I stopped to wipe sweat from my brow and to open the backdoor. The blazing fire had overheated the house. Suddenly, a gust of wind circulated the fallen pine needles. Even this catastrophe didn’t stop me. My next opponent was tree sap. My hands, clothes, and chainsaw became sticky magnets covered with pine needles. The more obstacles I encountered, the more determined I became, until…
“N-O-O-O-O! Lord, please don’t let this stupid thing be broken. Ben will kill me. Where are those directions?”
Searching through the disastrous mess, I realized it was too late to consult the manual. I’d done everything wrong, seized the motor, destroyed the house, and soon the boys would be home.
Filthy, scratched, bleeding, and aching all over, I hurriedly filled trash bags with pine needles and branches. I hauled everything outside, swept, vacuumed, scrubbed, sobbed, and showered.
That evening when Ben arrived, the pine fragrance emanated even stronger than when the Christmas tree was alive. He was impressed I had removed the tree alone, until he heard how and examined his chainsaw.
Sadly, that incident is reflective of how I tend to live my life. I get excited about brilliant ideas, don’t consult God’s manual first, eagerly venture forth, become blind to warning signs of impending disaster, then have a mess to clean-up.
Change isn’t easy, but I’m trying to learn. I still buy live Christmas trees, but I won’t ever burn one again.
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