Happy New Year! DemocratDad is back.
Just a quick post today. I'm so nervous about the Iowa caucus tomorrow that I can't sit still long enough to write much.
We took down our Christmas tree today, and my 3-year-old George had some questions.
I was standing on the step ladder, straining to get the final strand of lights off the top. George watched me from below.
"Why are you taking the lights off the tree?" he asked.
"I have to take them off because we want to use them again next year." With a sharp lassoing motion I yanked the strand of lights off that last stubborn branch. In the process I nearly swung myself off the ladder too. But I was okay. I glanced down at George and smiled to reassure us both.
George hadn't even noticed. "Why do we want to use them again next year?" George asked. He was working on the mystery of the tree.
"Because it will be Christmas again! And we'll put the lights on the new tree."
I stepped down from the ladder, gently lay the lights in a loose pile on the floor, and then lay down on the floor myself. Without hesitation, George lay next to me. It seemed like the thing to do.
Lying flat on my back now, I reached under the tree and began unscrewing the bolts which held the tree in its stand.
"What are you doing?" George whispered. He had seen that concentration look on my face before.
"I'm unscrewing these things down here, so that I can pull the tree out. Then we're going to leave it on the sidewalk where we leave the garbage. Some men with a big truck will come to pick it up."
Silence. He considered. I unscrewed another bolt.
A few minutes later and I had pulled the tree out the door, where it lay flopped like a beached whale -- only one which just happened to have green branches. That's when I spotted the colored lights I had wrapped around the thick branch of an avocado tree just outside our door in early December. Without hesitating I stepped over and began unwrapping this strand of lights too.
George looked up at me with what can only be described as an ironic expression.
"What are you doing?" he asked, beginning his cross-examination with a deceptively simple question.
"I'm taking these lights off the tree."
A sly smile crept over his face. "And then you're going to pull it out?"
"No!" I said. "This is our avocado tree! This isn't the kind of tree we pull out."
He studied its thick waxy leaves, its smoth bark. "This isn't a Christmas tree," he agreed. "Then why did you put lights on it?"
He got me. I turned to him. I realized I had to make a distinction for him. But what exactly was it?
Do I make it "trees in the house vs. trees outside"? No, that's not it. Or is it evergreen trees vs. deciduous trees? No. Then I realized what it was.
"We only throw out the Christmas tree. The rest stay stuck in the ground."
He gazed around at the trees surrounding us. He looked pleased. They weren't going anywhere. We weren't either.
Out with the old, in with the new, but we there are some constants. The trees stay stuck in the ground, and we're here all the time.