Sunday, December 4, 2022

Old fart birthday, new holiday tree.

On Wednesday, I'll be 65 years old. 

Sixty-five used to be a major milestone; at last, you'd reached your senior years. But these days, like so many things, official old fart status comes in dribs and drabs. AARP lets 50-year-olds join, for crying out loud. Those people are practically babies! 

The IRS will penalize you for withdrawing from your 401(k) until you hit 59 1/2; after that, hey, knock yourself out. Social Security considers early retirement to start at 62. Even 65 isn't the magic retirement number it used to be -- if I'd kept working full-time, I wouldn't have been eligible for "full retirement" benefits until 66 1/2. (Your mileage may vary; "full retirement age" for Social Security is based on your birth year, and if you're younger than me, well, plan to work longer.) The only thing that's still a lock for 65-year-old Americans is Medicare.

Other than that, you're only as young as you feel, and so forth. But some things do change, regardless of how you feel. Take, for example, the holiday tree.

I always put up a tree. Just one, thank you. Last year I made sure I had some sort of tree-like decoration in every room, but there's ever only one full-on decorated Yule tree in this house. I know, I know, some folks my age don't bother to decorate if they don't have anyone coming home to appreciate them -- but screw that. I decorate the tree for me.

And I always get a real tree. Always, always, always. I remember when I was a teeny kid, my dad would go buy a tree off some lot and bring it home, and Mom would decorate it, and it'd stay up 'til January 6th -- and then Mom would take it down and complain for months afterward about the mess from leftover needles. So we finally got an artificial tree. That's the tree I really grew up with. It was not one of those aluminum abominations on which you'd shine a spotlight with a rotating, color-changing disc. Oh no, ours was green. With metal brackets on a green pole that you stuck the individual branches into. And a top part, a sort of mini tree itself, that you shoved into the top of the pole. It was my job to put the tree together every year. Then Mom would do the lights and the tinsel, and I'd hang the ornaments.

As I got older, I was put in charge of setting up the tree from start to finish -- except for the tinsel. I didn't have the patience to put on each strand individually. (I still don't, to be honest. Sorry, Mom.)

Anyway, I got pretty sick and tired of putting Tab A into Slot B of our fake tree. Plus it didn't smell like Christmas; it smelled like the attic where the tree was kept for 50 weeks out of the year. So after I moved away from home, I'd buy a real tree -- sometimes from a lot, often from a Christmas tree farm (the key to getting an absolutely fresh tree is to cut it yourself), but always a real tree. And I wouldn't get it 'til after my birthday, because it's bad enough to have a birthday in the middle of the holidays without Christmas creep eclipsing your cake and whatnot.

But y'know, the price of real trees keeps going up. This year, the average price for a real tree from your corner lot is supposed to be close to $100. For that kind of money, I could get a fake tree, use it for two years, and be many, many dollars ahead.

So I did. Behold: my new fake tree. 

Lynne Cantwell 2022
It arrived yesterday. It came with the branches already attached -- no Tab A in Slot B, just bend them away from the trunk and each other -- and with the lights already installed. It needs a little more shaping; I only set it up today to make sure it would fit in that corner of the dining room. (It's already dropping needles. Take that, Mom!)

But I'm sticking with one tradition: This is as far as it goes today. I refuse to finish decorating 'til after my birthday.

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These moments of bloggy bending to the inevitable have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Stay safe!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

65 is one thing. Wait 'til you hit 70. Then it's, like, "damn, I think I'm officially an old person." I don't feel old, but , you know...things hurt that didn't used to hurt...Stamina ain't what it used to be...Everybody else looks so young.

Jo-Anne Teal said...

I too had the job of putting the tree together. Ours was colour coded, the branch end wire having been dipped in yellow, orange, red or green paint that matched the painted holes in the 'trunk'. :))

I agree that the rules concerning age of collection for pension/retirement/old fart benefits are set arbitrarily.

Happy early birthday, Lynne. I shall leave my singing serenade until Wednesday!!

Jo-Anne

Lynne Cantwell said...

Everybody already looks like a kid to me. You mean it gets worse??

;)

Lynne Cantwell said...

Thanks, Jo! :)