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New Orleans Mardi Gras Comes Too Soon This Year

Funny thing there is about the holidays. Around Halloween when I think of having to go out and buy a tree and pull all the decorations out and pretty up the house it just seems so far off, like I couldn’t imagine doing all that, so far away from Christmas. Since it’s not Christmas it does not feel like Christmas.

 New Orleans Mardi Gras Comes Too Soon This Year

christmas tree

Our tree decorated with the finishing touch – the ribbons cascading down – really dresses it up.

Then Thanksgiving comes and still I just cannot imagine doing all that I have to do for the coming holidays, the buying and the hauling back home the tree, taking the many boxes of decorations down from the back steps where they are stored, pulling everything out, putting up the garland and spreading all the decorations around the house.

Then turkey day passes and the first thing I think about is now I have to go out and buy a tree. Fortunately this year I found a Unitarian church group close to home that was selling fresh cut trees. I made it there, found the perfect tree, the first one I looked at in fact, bought it, had it put on top of my car and I was back home within a half hour of leaving. I mean, it was the best tree buying experience ever.

So now that is my new place to buy the tree. Yippee, the first weekend after Thanksgiving I got my tree. I set it up in the backyard in a bucket of water and sprayed it down with water to freshen it up. I do this every year, then bring it into the house a day or two afterwards.

Once the tree is in the house, well, yes it feels like Christmas, then I am eager to get all the decorations down from storage and go to town putting up the garland and lights and candles and wreaths and all the accouterments fof the season.

The most onerous of all the jobs, besides finding and buying the perfect tree, which this year was really easy, is putting on the lights on the tree. This year instead of trying to do it all at once I just did it a little bit at a time over a period of a couple days. Once that’s done, heck, the rest is easy.

My mom, who just turned 101, took the ornaments out of the box, as she does every year, and unwrapped the tissue paper from each one and put them on a tray that I move right next to the tree. We had the tree done in an hour or so.

Then I put the finishing touches on it with ribbons that draped down from the top of the tree. It really makes a difference, really dresses up the tree and everyone comments how beautiful the tree is. It’s the ribbons that make all the difference.

So the tree will be up for about a month. About the last week it stops sucking up water and begins to dry out. The branches start to droop and although it still looks beautiful the tree has finally given up the ghost. We usually keep the tree up till right after my mom’s birthday which is the 9th of January.

It’s funny how after the New Year’s and around about the 6th, which is Twelfth Night when the Wise Men brought the gifts to the Baby Jesus, the decorations seem to change. You can feel it in the air, it’s just time to take them down.

Yes, the house still looks beautiful, but the air of the holidays has passed and it’s time to move on into the new year. The tree is saying, my time is up, time to move on to fulfill my new role as protector of the coast, rebuilder of the coastline.

Early Saturday morning I was able to take the tree down and out to the curb. I got it out there an hour before the recycling truck came by the pick the trees up to be used in our coastal rebuilding projects. It was the last day of the pickup and I got it out there just in time.

xmas tree curb copy

The inauspicious end to our beautiful tree, now empty, lonely and forlorn waiting to be picked up by the recycling truck to join other trees helping to rebuild our Louisiana coast.

Having dried out the tree was light enough now that I could pull it out of its deep water well in the stand, turn it around to put the trunk end to the door and hall it out all by myself. I pulled out the tree through the doors, it’s dry branches crunching against the doorway and laying a trail of dry needles down the steps and along the sidewalk, and lay it out by the curb.

There it lay on its side, empty, forlorn, dry and barren, such an ignominious end to what had once been such a beautiful being which made some folks gasp in delight on their first viewing of it as they walked through the front door.

The truck came by and I watched as the men unceremoniously grabbed it, threw it in the back of the truck, flipped the switch to allow that big claw to grab it and crunched it up with all the other empty, forlorn and once beautiful and beloved trees. Now they moved on to the next part of their life cycle on the coast of Louisiana.

Now we get ready for Mardi Gras which comes much earlier than we are ready for this season. God, Carnival already? That’s what most New Orleanian’s are thinking. January 6th we started eating our first king cakes as we do every year.

But all the balls and festivities that usually get spread out over a couple months now have to be done in a couple weeks. Just can’t imagine now going out to see parades and doing the whole carnival thing. I mean, the holidays just ended. What the heck is all that about?

Easter is early and so Mardi Gras is too. That’s just the way it is. But when the first parades roll the season will be upon us and, guess what, it will feel like Mardi Gras and everyone of us will be all in.

The spirit of the carnival season just gets infectious. Funny how holidays seem to go like that. And we’ll be out there standing in the streets catching stuff from the floats, others will be on the floats throwing stuff to us. Totally and completely caught up in the season. And I’ll think “what’s all that about Mardi Gras being too early?”

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