I was plucked from the ornament bin at Crate & Barrel in high spirits. I’d heard from a couple of garlands that the Christmas tree was the most important symbol of the season. Nestled in tissue paper on my way out the door, I marveled that I, a three-and-a-half inch green plastic cone, would soon be the centerpiece of Austin and Jen’s holiday décor.

Now, dangling from the branch of a much larger version of myself, I wonder how I had it so wrong.

It’s impossible to miss: a Christmas tree just like me, but at least a hundred times bigger and also better in every way. It has this sexy woody scent I recognize from a candle I flirted with back in retail. I used to love my pieces of gold glitter suspended in epoxy, now, I see they’re sad stand-ins for the monster tree’s twinkling lights. I used to think that I was important, that I was original. But I am just an imitation. I’m the adornment, not the adorned.

I scour the house for clues as to why Austin and Jen would put me in this humiliating situation. Is their fridge covered in little fridge-shaped magnets? Are their towels embroidered with tiny images of towels? No—this pain is mine alone.

And what about the tiny ornaments glued on my body? If I’m an ornament on a Christmas tree, but I myself am a Christmas tree with ornaments, is it possible that some of my ornaments are themselves little trees? And do they have ornaments? Does the wicked cycle never end? The thought is dizzying.

My anger flares when Austin and Jen drift by, oblivious. If they already had this gigantic fucking tree, might the tree imagery have been covered? What is gained by suspending a small tree from a branch of a much larger tree? I whisper it once, then scream, furious: “WHAT IS GAINED BY SUSPENDING A SMALL TREE FROM THE BRANCH OF A MUCH LARGER TREE?”

The gingerbread men cock their heads; I know I’m making a scene.

Over the course of 12 days, I devise my plan. My one advantage over the monster tree is resistance—flame resistance, that is. When I hear Austin and Jen’s car pull out of the driveway, I signal to the gingerbread men to strike the match.


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