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Christmas spirit often disappears long before the dead tree

Mark Rutledge 2
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Mark Rutledge


By Mark Rutledge

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Serving as your own general contractor on a home construction project means you can save some cash by serving as the cleanup crew. And if you’re lucky, your spouse will pitch in. I’m lucky.

My wife, Sharon, and I were feverishly working at the building site one recent evening clearing the way for Sheetrock finishers to do their thing. The drywall hangers had piled scrap in the garage so that we could more easily load it into my pickup for disposal.

I had no idea the pile would be nearly as large as the pickup. I started loading the scrap onto a flatbed trailer while Sharon went back to the rental house to retrieve some tools for another little job on our punch list. By the time she returned, the sky and my heart were both turning dark.

Sharon thought I was ill from loading roughly a ton of scrap Sheetrock with a bad finger. Not so. I just tend to develop a sour disposition whenever my have-to swells to about twice the size of my want-to.

“What's wrong with Dad?” a daughter might ask.

“Oh, his have-to is bigger than his want-to again.”

With the old electric drill that Sharon brought back, I completed a small fix needed before the finishers showed up the next morning. I’d been monopolizing my brother’s cordless-drill kit for months, but he had removed it from his tool bench to use somewhere away from the farm.

The nerve of that guy, running off with his own tools like that.

So when Sharon unloaded my electric drill and other needed items, she also tossed out our dead Christmas tree.

“Why’d you bring that thing out here?” I snapped.

“I got tired of seeing it on the porch,” she said.

I should have moved on to more important matters at that point. Happy Valentine’s Day, perhaps. But I just had to dig in with a few more questions.

I questioned whether a dead tree is easier to look at upright on a porch or cast to the side of a construction site, whether the tree stand should be removed before the discarding of the tree, and whether it was wise to add Christmas-tree disposal to the have-to list we were already struggling to complete.

To her credit, my wife did not leave me to finish the have-to list alone. She went on to complete several key tasks that definitely helped us avoid work delays and other unpleasantness.

She did, however, calmly compare me to a certain farm animal whose contributions to agriculture ended with the invention of the tractor. I had that coming.

And as just desserts for being aggravated with my brother for his rudely running off with his own drill kit, he later reaffirmed my farm-animal resemblance by presenting me with an early housewarming gift: A cordless-drill kit. Our needle-shedding Fraser fir, which so recently provided such a warm holiday glow, will eventually be carried to the burn pile.

And not by a tractor.

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.