For those of you who pay taxes, there's a little perk you get at Christmas time that probably comes and goes without nary a thought (so Dickensian!). It's so seamless that it never occurs to you that it could be any other way.
After the holidays, we undecorated our tree and hauled it out to the "curb." I say "curb" because we have no sidewalks that need to be curbed. So, really, Mike hauled it out to the "the line at the front of our property that indicates where the street begins." Which is no easy feat given that our driveway is 22 miles long, covered in deep snow and uphill both ways.
It doesn't occur to me to look around and see if anyone else has put their tree at the "curb."
Which they haven't.
Not one tree in the entire neighborhood or the entire town or the entire seacoast area is lying naked at the end of anyone's driveway. At no time during the post-holiday season have I seen any trees lying naked at the end of anyone's driveway.
So I shouldn't have been surprised when I came home at the end of the day and found my garbage can empty............and my Christmas tree still lying naked at the end of my driveway. But I WAS surprised. Wha??? Maybe they didn't see it? Maybe there are so many trees in this state that they can't differentiate between upright, living trees and prostrate, dead ones? Used for ceremonial purposes? Maybe they thought it was a fallen tree and not a used Christmas tree and they were leaving it for birds and rodents to build homes in?
Then it hit me: I bet they take them on a certain day and I missed it! RATS! Now I'm irritated.
So the next day, I ask my neighbor:
"When do they pick up the Christmas trees?"
"When does who pick up the Christmas trees?"
"The garbage people."
That's when she starts to laugh............at me, not with me. And I get that prickly feeling of embarrassment as I finally recognize the scenario that was right in front of my face the whole time - but my nanny-state eyes could not see it.
"No one's coming to get my tree?"
She laughs some more. A little harder now. And I can see that she's patting me on the head in her mind. And I wonder for a hot, embarrassing moment if all the other neighbors have done this as they drove by the new girl's house. What looked perfectly normal five minutes ago now looks strange and backward. To someone who has never put their tree out for the garbage people, this must look ridiculously out of place. Like putting your garbage cans on the roof. Do they mock my faith in the unseen forces that make my Christmas tree disappear without any personal responsibility on my part? Do they wonder how I feed myself, too?
But here's the next question - a question to which I simply cannot envision a reasonable answer:
"So what do I do with it?"
Which, to her, must sound like "So how do you get the food to your mouth?"
"Well," she says, looking over her shoulder, "we throw ours in the woods." Eyes darting.
I'm getting the feeling we're not supposed to do this.
"Ok, but what if you're a rule follower like me? Or if you don't live in a privileged area that requires each house to be nestled into 2 acres of woods? What if you live in an apartment building?"
"Then you have to take it to the dump and pay to have them take it off your hands."
I tell this to Mike who stares at me like I'm lying. Because only a cretin would put his dry, used up Christmas tree BACK ON TOP OF HIS CAR, tie it down with twine so as not to lose it on the highway, and DRIVE it somewhere. The only time you should tie your Christmas tree to the top of your car is when it's fresh and green and ripe with the anticipation of Christmas. This is like driving your dog to the vet to have it put to sleep.
So Mike puts on his snow shoes and trudges down the driveway - uphill both ways - to retrieve our humiliated Christmas tree. And he throws it in the woods.
Tune in next time when we'll discuss why I have to pay $85.00 to get a library card.
In the meantime, I'll be chasing after my elected officials with my wallet open. "No, no" I'll say. "It's not a bribe. It's called "taxes." Can I give you some "taxes?" We pay "taxes" in exchange for basic services that make us civilized."
Like picking up my damn Christmas tree.