The Pit Wreath

Cross-Post from Living Off Script, originally posted 12/11/12

Still sporting parkas, hats, and scarves, my husband and I proudly hung the wreath on our door. We took a photo of the Christmas decor that now graced the communal hallway. Neighbors with fake wreaths be damned. We had the real deal.

We had just returned from a wreath hunt that included driving from one tree-filled lot to another. And another. And yet another. None sold wreaths. Finally, we happened by a grocery store where I spied greenery. Desperate for the search to end, Hubs braked and made an illegal U-turn to pull into the parking lot.

A two-tiered wooden stand near the shopping carts held wreaths made of fir; balsam; decorated in white or blue bows and matching ornaments. Chilled from the wind, our noses red as berries, tired, and hungry, we simply chose one with real pine cones and a red plaid bow, and congratulated ourselves on our success.

Normally I order our wreath from L.L. Bean. The pine cones are real and the balsam is so wonderfully fragrant that I often step into the hallway to let the smell of Christmas overwhelm me. Unfortunately, it sometimes arrives with a wrinkled bow and sprigs ever-so-slightly out of place. No matter how many times I rearrange the wayward sprigs, they pop up like cowlicks, which take away from my personal enjoyment of the wreath. Hubs never notices these things, but I do. These cowlick wreaths are expensive, so this year I decided to buy one locally. We were successful. We rocked the wreath world.

When I went to get the mail the next day, and to enjoy our wreath’s lovely scent, I stopped mid-stride. I shut the door behind me and sniffed a pine cone. It smelled like a sweaty armpit.

I'm pretty sure pine cones don’t smell like that, I thought.

I leaned in once more, and yes, the pine cone smelled like a sweaty armpit. Maybe they do smell like that,I reasoned, and sniffed the other two pine cones. They all smelled the same. Confused, I waited for Hubs to come home for his opinion.

Later, I heard the front door open and went to greet Hubs. "Hi, baby," he said leaning over to kiss me.

I addressed him, "Hubs of Living Off Script.”

His smile melted into a frown of concern. "What is it?"

"The pine cones on the wreath smell like sweaty armpits."

He laughed.

"I'm serious!" I insisted. "Go smell one."

With a grin, he shook his head.

"Please? At least make sure I'm not having nasal hallucinations."

He set down his briefcase and with a sigh, opened the door to humor me. He sniffed one, sniffed it again, and sniffed the remaining two. He turned to me, his mirthful tone replaced with seriousness. “You’re right.”

"I knew it. What are we going to do? It's embarrassing. All of the neighbors can smell it when they walk past.”

"I'll think of something," he answered with determination.

After dinner, Hubs headed for the door so I followed him. He opened it, and we both recoiled from the odor. Hubs was armed with a bottle of Febreze with which he assaulted the wreath.

"I don't know," I began. "It still smells like armpits to me."

"Give it time," Hubs said confidently. "It should smell better tomorrow."

The following morning, I saw Hubs off at the door as usual. I leaned into the wreath. "Yuck!" I said. "Now it smells like Febreze with an infusion of sweaty armpits! I can't even smell the green parts."

Hubs turned towards the lobby door. "I'm going to be late."

Despite being clad in just a blue, penguin-covered flannel nightgown, I slipped on some Crocs, removed the wreath, went out in the cold, and dumped it in the trash, breathing through my mouth the whole way. I warmed myself at the kitchen table with a mug of coffee and scowled at the dumpster through the window. I could learn to live with a wreath that has a wrinkled bow and sprigs out of place.

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