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The Tree

I did it.


I killed the f- - - - ng Christmas tree.

We’re less than a week away from Christmas Day, and our festive centerpiece - ornaments, lights, and all - looks like an angry dead owl covered in old dijon mustard. Its branches have surrendered and retreated, their life force melted and dried up to a shell of disappointment. We have fake-garland draped around the window closest to our six-foot fire hazard of a present umbrella. You know what color it is? GREEN. Forever green. So green it mocks me. I hate how green it is, in perfect side-by-side comparison to our dead tree, because it reminds me how much of a failure I am. Yes, it’s true. All of this is my fault.


It was still alive when a man dropped it off. Jill had pressed buttons, or made a call - I don’t really know what she did - but she told me to go outside because a Christmas tree was being delivered. Our driveway is as steep as a ski jump, so I helped him carry it up, paid him through Venmo, and was impressed with how effortlessly the process unfolded. My neighbor even yelled at me, “Hey, how’d you get that tree?” I told her this guy dropped it off and we both nodded in agreement that this was easily the best Christmas tree purchasing experience. While the sapling slinger and I didn’t shake hands (because we’re all bubble people in a virus-plagued dystopia), we did do an awkward air fist bump to each other before he mentioned something I’ll never forget.


“When you water it, use a squirt bottle on the bark.”


Perplexed. A squirt bottle on the bark? I had always believed sitting in a giant dog-bowl sized puddle for weeks was customary and widely accepted without alternative. He assured me that bark-squirting was indeed the best way for trees to absorb moisture. Huh. I staked the bottom, placed it inside, and we tinseled, lit, and ornamented the shit out of it. Every night I squirted until I had cramps in my palms, spraying over and over and...oh my god it takes forever to empty a spray bottle. I could have powered a terrible middle school science fair runner-up with all the energy it took to bark-squirt our stupid f- - - - ng Christmas tree. And then, my efforts started to dwindle.

A full bottle became a half. A half became a third. Full days passed in order to rest my pathetic little palm muscles. And then Jill said, “I think our tree is dead.” I honestly hadn’t noticed, but I definitely wasn’t surprised. Because deep down I knew why our tree was dead. I’d deemed it unworthy of enduring mild-squirt hand-torture. And, perhaps more importantly, I had subscribed to an incredibly irresponsible approach to conifer care. Christmas is foiled, you FOOL! What else am I doing that’s this stupid? Am I already part of a pyramid scheme? Should I not have given my social security number to that nice robot that called earlier? I can only pray that shamefully accepting this smiting from the tree Gods will pay my seasonal penance.


And so with five days remaining until I can relieve our living room of this embarrassing eyesore, I’m only left to wonder whether or not it will burn our house down. I’m betting “no,” but I’ve been wrong before.

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