When we mounted it, the tree stood perfectly the first time. The trunk was too wide for the screws in the base though, and Dawn had to run out and get a new one. This will be the base for the ages, I said. In the first week it drank about three quarts a day. It filled the entryway with the scent of fresh pine. The lights gave a soft glow and the glass ornaments a sparkle. More and more the kids were less and less interested in the decorating but they still gathered round, still had some pep brought on by the decorations and the music. I had to rework a project plan as the sun went down and the timer triggered the ceramic lights outside. I came down and lay on the sofa with a beer while Dawn laced the lights around and started with the ornaments. I hung a handful myself and repositioned some that had already been hung. With Thanksgiving so late it seemed to compress Christmas, the two bumping into each other awkwardly at the door, not supposed to see each other passing. Both clocks ticked opposite each other with the tree in the middle. And I wondered what it thought of all this ornamentation and fuss: this cruel ending. One month you’re center stage, the next you’re kicked to the curb for the Boy Scouts, hauled off in a truck.