Don’t needle her; she’s pine

Cradled in the palm of my hand is the gift that keeps on giving. It is not returnable nor refundable. It never decays, disintegrates or fully disappears.

Behold, the artificial pine needle.

Each year we wrestle the Christmas tree and greenery from their large plastic tubs, see all the pine needles nestled in the bottom of the tubs, and are relieved to think they have already done their shedding.

Ho, ho, ho. The joke is on us.

As soon as the tree is up, and garlands are in place, the shedding begins.

The tiny hard-to-grab needles wedge between the hardwoods, huddle in dark corners and lurk under furniture. They multiply faster than plastic containers with no lids.

Based on the volume of pine needles consumed by the vacuum, our tree and garlands should be bare—Charlie Brown-style Christmas.

Manufacturers boast that their artificial trees replicate the realism of live long-needle trees. Maybe shedding is part of the realism. That said, we have three white pines and two firs in our backyard that don’t shed this much.

Last week I found two artificial pine needles stuck to the ironing board cover. Considering how infrequently I iron, I’m considering having them carbon dated. Just curious.

Last summer I found one in our safe deposit box. It’s our fault for not locking it.

When we whipped out the Scrabble board a few weeks ago, three pine needles were clinging to the cloth bag holding the letter tiles. On the upside, it prompted me to make the word conifer, thereby scoring 50 bonus points for using all seven tiles.

Loose pine needles seem to have the upper branch this year. Emptying the vacuum again, I ponder switching to the leaf blower.

This morning there were a half dozen in the dustpan when I swept the kitchen. My theory is they smelled cinnamon rolls baking. I’ve found them under the kitchen table, stuck to my good winter coat and on a sofa pillow. I have no comfort or joy.

A few years ago, we bought a real tree. It didn’t solve the stray needle problem; it only compounded things with pine scent that triggered allergies.

As of two minutes ago, I have nabbed all the stray pine needles in sight and am once again in the lead. Of course, the day is young and more will surface tomorrow, the day after that, next spring, next summer and next Christmas.

As Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” would have said, “Tradition!”

The only good thing about finding stray pine needles throughout the year is that Christmas never ends.

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