Yesterday as I was fighting my way through Crazy Town, I noticed several Christmas trees sitting outside for the garbage collectors. The dead trees made me break out into a cold sweat. Guilt sweat. But not for the reason you think. I took my tree down before I left for Big Bear. I felt guilt sweat for something that happened over 25 years ago. I guess it's time to confess.
It was a gloomy December day in 1983. A fog inversion had just settled over the Salt Lake Valley. I was living in a duplex with friends along the Foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. Three out of four of us had recently been laid off our jobs. And oddly enough, that same three (which included me) had no means of transportation, because our cars had broken down as well. Hard times had descended on the house.
There we were, sitting in the living room mid-afternoon, still in our pajamas, with nothing to do. I looked out the window at all the gray -- gray skies, gray snow, gray garbage cans, and dead Christmas trees lying lifeless on the curb waiting to be moved to their final resting place -- the dump. It was a depressing scene. I remember thinking "Boy, this is going to be one looooong winter."
As we sat looking out at all the gloom, we bounced around some ideas -- things we could do to make life a little more fun. Someone came up with a doozer "Hey wouldn't it be funny to get all the dead Christmas trees and make a forest in the basement? We could have a party!" Somehow that got us all laughing -- the thought of a forest next to the washer and dryer. So, we hatched a plan, and that night, began execution.
Still dressed in pajamas, under the light of the moon and below zero temperatures, we wandered up and down our street, collecting dead trees. We we dragged about 10 of them back to our house and hid them in our garage.
The following morning, our next-door-neighbors were out front inspecting the curb. They couldn't figure out why their dead tree was missing, but not their garbage. I'm sure the rest of our neighbors wondered what happened as well. Little did they know their cast-off greenery had been artfully arranged into a laundry room woodland.
That same day, we called our boyfriends and said "Hey, we have a surprise for you! Dress warm and come over around 7:00." So they did. They arrived in parkas, mittens, and hats, and we lead them right down into the basement where we had the best picnic ever. The scent of pine mingled with dryer sheets as we ate our sandwiches and laughed. Then we took the party upstairs and played games.
All I remember about that now, was laughing -- really, really hard. It was the best time. In the middle of all that gloomy gray, we had found a silver lining.
And now for the confession:
A few days later, the lone roommate who still had a job (and a car), was a little annoyed by festivities created by the unemployed -- the winter wonderland was still in the basement. So, we dragged the trees back into the garage, and there they sat for months and months. We didn't get around to doing a thing about them until our landlady (who just happen to live next door) showed up one day and said "I don't know why you have Christmas trees in the garage, but they better be gone by tomorrow. It's a huge fire hazard."
So, on a warm night in April, as flowers were poking their heads out of the ground, we dragged what remained of the 10 trees next door -- to a big Church parking lot, and left them beside a locked dumpster. Then we got rid of the evidence -- a trail of dead needles that lead to our house.
The next day was Sunday. I went outside to get in my car and saw the typical scene -- cars pulling into the church parking lot for Sunday worship services. But, on this particular day, there was a man, dressed in his Sunday best, standing with his hands on his hips staring at the pile of trees. He had a look on his face that was priceless. You could tell he was just baffled at sight of Christmas trees in Springtime.
I went back into the house and told everyone to look out the window. The man was still standing there, with is hands on his hips. You better believe that my roommates and I thought that was the funniest thing ever. We laughed ourselves sick. We spent the morning watching people wander over to look at the trees. And every person who came had the same look on their face -- "How in the world did these get here???"
Until today, no one ever knew that it was the work of 3 scoundrels, too lazy to drag trees to the curb, in the middle of a gray winter.
Post Script: The note on the back of a photo indicates why we were laughing so hard during Trivial Pursuit -- we were confessing our most embarrassing moments on a date.