MARY MEAUX — The tree stands alone

Published 12:05 am Thursday, December 9, 2021

(Reporter’s note: This column ran on a blog I was part of on Dec. 23, 2009. Side note, I still haven’t put the tree up yet)

I am a procrastinator.
I wait until the last possible moment to do things then get caught up in the stress of “why did I wait until the last minute to do this?”
I like to consider myself as deadline driven (which sounds so much nicer) so when I was at a retail store recently and saw a sign announcing that Christmas was just a few weeks away I realized I needed to put up the tree.
You see, the tree and I do not get along.
It’s not that I hadn’t planned on putting the tree up the day after Thanksgiving, Heavens no. The thought did cross my mind. Then I thought, what the heck I’ll wait until I have some days off from work to do a really fine job.
I tend to forget that in my world things don’t happen as planned.
I went up to the attic and got sidetracked when I found some really old dishes and glassware. Then I found a box of books and photos of the kids when they were little. Of course I had to look up the value of the old dishes and glassware then reminiscence though the books and the photos.
I ended up sitting in my mother’s old rocking chair, feet propped on a footstool, flipping through the many books I’ve read and collected, the old yearbooks and oh, the photos. I think I even heard some sappy theme music playing in the background as I saw our three beautiful babies grow through the years.
By the time I made my way back downstairs I was way too tired to think about the tree and decorations.
But I did organize the Christmas section of the attic so I could easily grab those boxes and the artificial tree when I was ready to tackle that project.
The days went by as I made more excuses to myself — too tired, long day at work and I’ll just wait until the weekend were the best ones I could concoct to keep from facing the tree. One problem is that I didn’t allow a contingency plan for illness. I should have known to pad my schedule to figure in a day or two of “I just don’t feel good” or “my sinuses are acting up again and I don’t feel like moving.”
That meant more time passed, Christmas was closer and the dining room where the tree is traditionally placed was bare of twinkling lights and tinsel and garland and all of the little pretty things I wanted to show off.
With Christmas around the corner and the flashing sign from the retail store embedded in my head, I enlisted the help of the youngest son, who’s 21, and pointed out which boxes I wanted brought down from the attic.
I was pretty giddy with excitement as I peeked in the boxes and made a mental note of which decoration would go where. Then I saw my nemesis — the 7 foot artificial tree — sitting innocently in a long box.
In the past, when the kids were younger, we’d put up real trees. Some were flocked with a light dusting of “snow” while others were heavily flocked. They were beautiful. But when the kids reached adulthood we switched to the fake tree. Easy to put up and easy to take down, or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be.
The current tree is coded with tiny pieces of colored tape that corresponded to a map of sorts showing where to place the six different coded branches. That part is relatively easy.
My family knows that when I get something in my head, even though I procrastinate, do not get in my way. It’s best to just let me do it my own hard-headed way even if it means my way takes longer and is more complicated. I put up the tree and the family fades into the background so as not to cross my path — at least until I need help. And I always end up needing help.
With the floor swept and mopped and furniture moved around, I began placing the coded branches into the coordinating spots on the tree base. That part went pretty fast and soon I was looking at my nemesis at its full height. The branches needed adjusting and there were bare areas but that was ok because I knew the lights would help make the tree whole.
I opened a box and found the lights, tossing aside the tinsel and colored bulbs for later.
I looked over at my nemesis and thought, “not this year big boy. You’re getting decorated in one afternoon.” And with a bundle of lights in hand and the thought that I had beaten the tree at his own game, I realized I forgot where the extension cords were.
The hulking, 7-foot nemesis, with limbs yet to be shaped into anything resembling a tree, stood there bare.
My husband chanced my anger by asking me if I looked in the bottom of the boxes for extension cords before I started putting the tree up, and with a growl I answered “no.” There were no cords tucked all nice and tidy in the box, or any of the boxes.
The tree and I eyed each other in silence for a long time before I admitted defeat. The lights and decorations would have to wait one more day.
I think the tree actually chuckled.
Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at

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