By Diana Shaw
January 25, 2014
O Christmas tree
O Christmas tree
How dried up are thy branches.
After several weeks
Here in my house
Your color sorta blanches.
I remember when
We brought you in
All fresh and green and fragrant
Now you are a prickly mess
Another curbside vagrant.
When January comes, it’s hard for me to drag the Christmas tree out the door, down the lawn to its final resting place at the curb. When we brought the tree home, we admired it so: its fragrance, its elegant evergreen shape, its branches just waiting for lights and my 50-year collection of ornaments. Alas, like fish and some people, its welcome comes with an expiration date.
Have you ever been tempted to buy a really nice artificial tree and an aerosol can of pine fragrance and just leave the tree in place? You could trade glass orbs, tinsel and furry little holiday animals for valentines. Next would come March Madness basketballs and shamrocks; then Easter eggs; followed by red, white and blue flags (which would do for both Memorial Day and the Fourth of July). We’d still be using patriotic décor at Labor Day in September; then swap that for little footballs and pompoms; Halloween calls for pumpkins, ghosts and witches; followed by turkeys and little Pilgrims — right around to Christmas again.
Anyone for a Charlie Brown tree? We tend to be among the last to symbolically drag our tree to the curb (ours actually gets bagged and stored in the basement off-season). That can be blamed at least partially on me. I hate to see it go away for 11 months.
I remember years ago a cut tree that was taken to the garage on its way to the street in mid-January. It was forgotten out there until we cleaned out the garage — in June. It appeared outside in time to celebrate the summer solstice.
Another year, we got our tree out on time — just before the first of several big snowstorms a week apart. Everyone’s trees were buried. When the eventual thaw came, about six weeks later, they emerged as the Trees of Christmas Past, all lined up soldier-like at the curb.
Over the weekend, I’ll be packing away the remnants of the 2013 holiday season. I sincerely hope not to have to be outside in the deep freeze for any appreciable amount of time.
I’m looking forward to putting something on to cook Saturday morning that will tend itself all day long and be ready to eat at dinner time. I think this will do the trick. My goal is to make the day inside feel cozy and productive instead of a cold-weather duty.
BEEF AND CABBAGE
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks or rounds
10 small red potatoes, quartered
1 sweet onion, cut into eighths
4 cups water
4 pound corned beef brisket with spice packet
6 ounces beer
1/2 large head cabbage, coarsely chopped
Place the carrots, potatoes, and onion into the bottom of a slow cooker, pour in the water, and place the brisket on top of the vegetables. Pour the beer over the brisket. Sprinkle on the spices from the packet, cover, and set the cooker on high.
Cook the brisket for about 8 hours. An hour before serving, stir in the cabbage and cook for 1 more hour.
By the way, Jackson the Hound Dog is getting along very well. Thanks for your inquiries. He feels good and enjoys being with his people, in or out of the house. He seems grateful for his blessings. Good for me to remember as well.