Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Welcome to Christmas in Hell

Ah Christmas!  Could there be anything more heartwarming than a beautiful tree festooned with festive light and decorations gracing your living room?  I tell you it just makes me feel like Marie Stahlbaum peeking through the keyhole on Christmas Eve.

Screw that!  Christmas is now torture.

No, this is not another "War on Christmas" rant.  This is a rant about how Christmas has suddenly declared war on me.

For the first few years were were together, Kevin and I often traveled at Christmas time, so we weren't home to decorate.  Once we started staying home for the holidays,  I was determined to start decorating our place. 

I always insist on a real tree.  I have several reasons for that.  When I buy a real tree I am harvesting a sustainable crop, supporting a local farmer, and eventually discarding a tree I know is compostable.  I prefer that to a tree made of petrochemicals in a Chinese sweatshop by some big corporation that will sit in a landfill if I ever decide I don't want it anymore.  It's also not practical for me to have a fake tree.  I live in an apartment and have no place to store one in the off season. 

This weekend  I went to my favorite nursery, selected my tree, and brought it home.  At first all I did was bring it in and set it up in the stand.  I didn't decorate it right away and I didn't even remove the constraining twine used to make transporting it easier.

Saturday night, struck with one of my usual bouts of insomnia (serves me right for drinking two lychee martinis at Red plum - once the alcohol wears off my brain rebounds with a vengeance), I found myself awake with a book in the living room.  My nose started running.  At first I thought nothing of it.  I just grabbed a tissue and carried on.  Then it kept running.  The problem didn't disappear in the bedroom, but it was worse in the living room.

I left the house early to go to the gym and then spent the rest of the day at the barn.  I can be rather sneezy and sniffly at the barn as horses and hay dust really irritate me on dry winter days, but surprisingly, I felt much better away from home.

We came back home in the evening. As soon as we arrived home, my eyes started itching and I began sneezing in earnest.  What I had suspected at 4AM that morning was become more evident to me that evening.  I was allergic to my Christmas tree.  I told Kevin this. He seemed surprised.  I said maybe we should dispose of the tree before we start decorating it.  He would not hear of it.  The Jewish guy insists on keeping the Christmas tree.  Okay.  I'd deal with it. 

We unbound the branches and started decorating.  The sneezing was not unbearable.  Sure enough when I was awake at 4AM again (this time a rebound from the glass of chianti I had at dinner - serves me right for drinking on a "school night") I lay there in bed for a while trying to sleep again, and soon the runny nose began to creep up on me. Next thing I knew I was running for tissues every few minutes until I finally fell asleep again.  Once I was up, I was sneezing all morning.

So is this my fate for the rest of the month?  Am I going to suffer sleepless, sneezy, nights?  Will I spend the holiday season stoned on Benadryl?  I can't take the tree down now.  It's all decorated.  I bought a Christmas tree to brighten my home and now I want to spend as little time at home as possible. 

I have never been prone to seasonal allergies.  In the spring I can tiptoe through the tulips with a clear eyes and clear sinuses.  If you cut the grass, I'll stand in your yard and enjoy the smell. I have had real Christmas trees at home for most of my life and they never bothered me.   I laugh in the face of flora. 

There seems to be more about this tree than meets my itchy, watery, eyes.  I noticed when I handled it that it's very sticky and sappy.  It's also sort of dirty.  My hands were gray after decorating it.  I checked out some health websites about what to do for tree allergies and they suggest hosing down the tree before taking it inside.  It's too late for me to do that now, but I couldn't have done it anway as I have no garden hose or yard.  All I have now is drugs and hope.  Maybe I will eventually get used to whatever is on that tree that is bothering me and build up an immunity.

I have serious doubts about buying a tree next year. All I know is it's going to be a long December.

UPDATE:  I started this blog 3 days ago. Since then symptoms have abated somewhat.  The endless sniffles have gone.  I do still suffer from itchy eyes.  Last night I went to add some water to the beast's stand and had to move some branches out of the way to do so.  I didn't feel too great after that.  I definitely feel a change in the atmosphere when I come home.  The tree isn't trying to kill me - at least not for now.  I still think it's lying in wait, hoping to make its move as soon as I get too comfortable.

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