Saturday, December 24, 2016

Have Yourself A Very Pootie Christmas

Pootie and his buddy Hajerle
People have traditions about their Christmas trees. They pick out the same kind and decorate it with the same stuff from the same attic every year. We never know what we're going to do. The closest we have to a tradition is the beginning part when I hold the tree upright in its stand while Dave is all crumpled up underneath it swearing like a motherless sailor. That eloquence reached its apex the year of the Stealth Scoliosis Tree that did not look straight from any angle after it left the lot. Probably that marked the beginning of the great tree reduction decade, during the course of which we got ever smaller trees and even threatened to skip it altogether.

Which is where Pootie comes in.

Pootie, of course, is the small lint-for-brains dog who runs everything worth running around here. One of Pootie's primary functions is to catalog and archive Dave's baser desires as a hedge against his eventual civilization. That is why the television is often tuned to a basketball game even when no one but Pootie is watching; that is why the heat is often on in rooms no one's in. That is why there is a mountain of chocolate in the house at Easter, and why there is still a stocking for Pootie every Christmas even though the rest of us have quit exchanging presents. And that is why we still always have some sort of Christmas tree.

The year we decided to quit altogether, Dave relayed the information that Pootie would like a small one for himself, so of course he got one, and festooned it with ornaments of his own choosing, including a ceramic jockstrap and a garish star from the Dollar Store. That tree was about a foot tall, and it was something. The next year we again did not get a tree, but Pootie's was a little larger. This went on for years until Pootie's tree was the same size ours used to be.

I suspected I'd been hornswoggled, but Pootie had such a look of innocence in his buttons that I went along with the program for a while. And then came the year I announced I just wasn't up for getting a tree. And that year, on Christmas morning, Pootie presented me with a tiny potted Arizona Cypress because he knew I wanted one, and we hung as much stuff as we could on it. Every time you think Pootie has been indulged quite enough, he goes and does something sweet like that. That was the same Christmas we drank up our stash of Hoptimum IPA at ten in the morning. It was a good year.

The cypress went outside, still in its gallon pot, while I pondered where it might reasonably be planted, and finally I decided to plant it next door at the rental house. It was now three years old and three feet high. We turned our backs for a moment--had to go get ice cream or something--and when we looked again, it was twelve feet wide and sixteen feet tall and utterly too ambitious for its location, and we hatched a plan to dig it up and transplant it to a friend's house, but somehow it never happened, and it kept growing, audibly, until it occurred to me: but it would make a terrific Christmas tree.

Which felt wrong, somehow, like baconing your own pet pig, but after all what else would we do? We'd buy a different tree someone else had cut down. This way we'd at least own our transgression. We checked with Anna, whose kitchen-window view was fast being obliterated by a bustle of cypress branches, because we knew her to be a sensitive soul, and she gave us permission to do the deed. And so we butchered it humanely (which is to say, when Anna was not watching) and now Pootie's little blue tree is going out in a blaze of glory in our living room. With its nine-foot ceiling.

We didn't top it. I don't think we ever can.

31 comments:

  1. We gradually phased out celebrating Christmas, and one of the first things to go was having a tree. At first, we'd pick one of our houseplants to be our designated Christmas tree that year -- whichever one looked the largest and lushest (usually it was Norfolk Pine or Hibiscus). I'd decorate the winner with our ornaments. But even this began to be too onerous. I just associate Christmas with stress, and we no longer do anything remotely Christmassy. This year was the best non-Christmas so far; we're treating it like a major snowstorm. Stocked up on food, booze, books, and lots of Netflix streaming planned. We do not have to go out for the several days preceding the holiday, and thereby avoid the contamination of other people's stress. (Yes, I manage to get stressed out just being around stressed-out people.) Funny how an actual snowstorm would give me cabin fever after a day, but a self-imposed exile during this time of year feels like a vacation.

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    1. We also have a ten-inch plastic tree with a plastic bulldozer on top and hard-hat ornaments. I sent it to Dave and the crew along with some lights and a barrel of $1 wrapped gifts when he was working out of town on Christmas. Worst case, I can always find that and plunk it down on the counter.

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  2. Pootie and The Tall Tree Tale. I like it a lot. I love the skinny, bendy Santa hanging off it too, that's the perfect touch.
    My tree this year is a tiny six-inch glass tree complete with tiny glass ornaments, on the shelf above the TV.
    Merry Christmas Pootie. oh and you too Murr and Dave :)

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    1. Does anyone else have a Gumby Santa?

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    2. Yes! I made a felt Santa costume for Gumby several years ago and he is often the centerpiece on our table-- complete with bag o' toys.

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  3. I looked at my stored "tree" (actually, a frosted pine cone, with a few carollers [plastic marbles with eyes] to go with) a couple of days ago, and put them back in the box. But Pootie has inspired me, and I think I'll set them out on a snowbank of cotton fluffs, after all. Maybe inside a glass box, so the cat doesn't eat the "snow".

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    1. That would make for some outstanding hairballs.

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  4. Very original. Very. (And, I love it!)

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    1. Maybe NEXT year we can get away with no tree.

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  5. William Sydney Porter would have loved this story.

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    1. Interestingly (izzat a word?), O. Henry was a big favorite of mine when I was a kid and was responsible for pretty much wrecking my writing ability for a long time. I kept writing all this tortured stuff trying to get to the boffo ending.

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  6. My fave tree was a bare birch sapling. With all the decorations and a strand of lights it was elegant.

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    1. I can see that too, sounds beautiful
      Murr, Love your tree and especially the bendy, dangling Santa. Thanks for bringing back the memory of Gumby! We did away with the tree scene long ago (once it was no longer a team effort) but it was nice while it lasted. We did plant several that are still going strong and tall back in the Marietta, OH area. Merry Christmas!

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    2. I never had an actual Gumby ner his horse neither. Just this guy.

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  7. Love this! Especially the tree-topping bendy Santa Claus.

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    1. He's pretty swell, but there's something about a skinny Santa (or a skinny chickadee) that seems awfully wrong.

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  8. A very happy Christmas to you all. Particularly Pootie (of course).
    Our last Christmas tree is now growing on a friend's farm. And last estimate it was over twenty feet tall. I hope it outlives us all.

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    1. We had a neighbor thirty years ago who planted two or three of his little Christmas trees in his very small front yard. They are enormous. Fifty feet tall anyway.

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  9. If you guys were one of my kin down in Springfield you would have taken a chainsaw to the ceiling.

    Happy Holidays
    Mike

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    1. We do actually have two rooms in the house that would accommodate a tree that size, but what fun is that?

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  10. It is a spectacular tree, Pootie. Merry Christmas!

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  11. Oh my God thats a magnificent tree! Could you water it enough that it might sprout new roots and keep on growing? It's spectacular! Have a magnificent and spectacular and simple and peaceful christmas full of love and good cheer.

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    1. And you in particular should appreciate that we're having it with a tiny gorgeous child! 16 months old...can't get much more cheer than that.

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  12. Santa's a gymnast! Cool. I'm not one for holiday decorations. I lived alone for several years. I teach music lessons in my home and one year, a Jewish student and her mom glanced around my livingroom and asked if I was Jewish. Laughed myself silly. Fast forward a few years and I now have a wife who decorates her fool head off. Looks like a glitter and light bomb (a gentle explosion that harms no one) went off in our livingroom. No one has made that comment since. (Not that I would object, it's just clear, now.) If I show her a photo of your tree, she's going to want a gymnast Santa, too. She'd probably find one that lit up and sang.

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    1. Be careful not to ask too much of Gumby Santa. He's busy enough as it is. I do like the glitter bomb image...and just now (Merry Christmas) insisted my niece NOT clean up the wrapping paper and confetti hearts!

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  13. That is so awesome. And this is so funny (your reply to Should Fish More): "We do actually have two rooms in the house that would accommodate a tree that size, but what fun is that?" The top is hilarious.

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    1. Might be our last tree. You never know. Although Pootie...

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