Dear Millie


Since you are an authority on holiday etiquette, I am hoping you can solve an argument that my husband and I have been carrying on for the past twenty-eight years.
You see, I believe that the Christmas tree and all of its trimmings should come down shortly after Christmas.
Ed thinks that the tree should remain in the stand until there are no needles left and that he should take down the outside lights when the weather is cooperative, which is typically June.
He says that he will take your advice as long as he agrees with it.


Up to my ass in prickly needles, here in White Pine, Wisconsin,
Mrs. Brown

Dear Mrs. Brown,
First of all, you should water your tree once in awhile.
Second of all, your Christmas Tree should be taken down on New Year's Day.
The reason for this is simple. I am sure that you and Ed will stay up on New Year's Eve all the way till eleven o'clock watching that ball drop in Time Square out there in New York City, just like everybody else in these parts. And since you are going to stay up all the way until faux midnight, you will be celebrating with that fancy white wine out of that box in your refrigerator, that goes so well with that expensive seafood that your sweetheart brought home from the SEAFOOD MARKET for such a special occasion. So special that you will have dinner at home so as to avoid all the crowds and all the cops.
Because of this unruly behavior, you will not feel so great on New Year's Day.
Not to worry.
Nobody is coming over.

You can spend all day dismantling that tree.
Every time you get up to get another drink of water, which by the way, I am so proud to see that you are now drinking out of a cup and do not have your head under the faucet anymore, you just pluck another ornament off a branch and drop it into the plastic bin.
I suggest that you also rinse a glass and set it on the dishwasher rack with each trip to the kitchen. It is truly amazing what all can be accomplished at a snail's pace in just ten hours.
It is fine if you leave the box of lights, ornaments and candles at the top of the stairs until tomorrow, and that your tree is stuck in the snow two feet away from your door.
Tomorrow you will be full of spunk, and you will put that shit away on your way to the laundry room and Ed will haul that tree another couple of feet away from your door so that you can use it again. If he just drags that thing a couple of feet a day toward the curb it should be there by pick up day.
Now, the outside lights are another story all together.
Not too many people know this, but back in the day when it was legal to drive around in your car with a six pack of beer and your dog in the back seat with his head out the window, Sven, Dakota Jones and I took annual Christmas Light Critiquing Cruises, and we rated the area outside lights.
"What do you mean it was never legal to do that?"
You will have to excuse my sister, she is always butting in. Apparently, she doesn't remember when it was perfectly legal to drive around with beer. She is a year younger than me, and she likes to throw that in my face.
"It was before your time, Louisa."
Our system was simple.
If you had to stand in your yard and whip those lights around and around your head in a lasso like fashion before letting go and watching them land up in a branch of a tree that only has three branches to begin with, then not only should you move to a ranch in Texas, you should never have to take them down, because they should never have been up there in the first place.
If there is more than one car pileup in front of your house it is quite possible that your blinking and flashing lights are causing epileptic seizures. If the crashing drivers do not even have epilepsy, you should be considered armed and dangerous, and you should serve your jail sentence during light decorating season.
If you are stringing lights around your property along that ugly metal fence of yours and you are alternating green, then red, then green then red, then green then, "Hey Thelma, we are out of red lights," do NOT throw in a string of blue just to finish the job, because if you do and you go missing, nobody is going to look for you.
On the other hand, if you have tasteful, flowing and serene lights, that do not cause people to murder their neighbors, then feel free to leave them there as long as you like.
But that does not mean that you have to plug them in.
If you are the kind of person who cannot step away from an outlet, then to be safe, you should take them down before Valentine's Day.
Because once January is over people get real testy, especially in places like White Pine, Wisconsin.
For those with severe cases of cabin fever, those who are sitting in their kitchens under doctor's ordered sun lamps, just trying to suck in air, it is considered to be cruel and inhuman punishment to subject them to any reminders of Christmas.
Do you put your fish on a stringer or do you throw them on shore and watch them flop to their death?
Don't be that guy.
And just because the giving season is officially over it is still important to be kind to those who are fortunate enough to take a Jamaican break in February. They cannot bring any of that weed back. It will be a tough enough transition for them without seeing your fucking lights from the airplane window seat.
And if in fact you go and drink a case and a half of beer on a scorching hot summer night in July and you plug in those God Damn things, because you cannot stop yourself, do not forget that now, EVERYBODY, has a gun.
Even my Sweet Sven.
Remember when he shot out the bedroom window?
Mrs. Brown, I hope I have cleared things up for you and Ed.


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