NORTH ADAMS

I don't like to complain about my wife, but our dern Christmas tree is still up. We got the stockings down (that's the dirtiest thing I've ever written) and the garland, but for some reason the tree lingers on like my drunken brother in law.

I really don't mind the tree being up, but it's like an old toy that no one likes anymore; we walk past it as if it was three-dimensional painting protruding out from the wall. There is still a present of jams, jellies and relishes under the old artificial. I love presents that come in Mason jars. It's like getting a new set of glasses with every preserved fruit and vegetable.

We live in North Adams and have been living here for some 28 years now, so don't think by the Mason jar line that we are from the boondocks or worse yet Pownal. Originally, I'm a city boy, having been kicked out of Troy for reasons I can't talk about it until 2019. I will tell you that it involved booze and broads. Sorry, but I've been reading a lot of Damon Runyon lately.

And the "we" I'm talking about, happens to be my wife, Dawn, and not a mouse in my pocket. Although one would be better than the other some days.

Oh relax: We've have been though the wars as far as our marriage goes, and we have settled into a place where you can say just about anything to each other because it's already been said. This is called the post-menopause phenomenon -- meaning if you get through menopause, it's a phenomenon.

I tell her, I'm not lazy (yes, I am). I'm tender with delicate things (lie number two). I've offered to take down the tree myself (in lieu of washing the dishes), but Dawn just laughed and told me no. She said I can't be trusted, as if I would date her sister. That's a bad example as if I would give up state secrets. She forgets that I went to Catholic school where they failed to beat math into me.

I hope you don't believe we are one of those couples who thinks it's rather Bohemian to keep your tree up. We're really not that cool. We are just a couple of slackers, the reason we never went into the service. I have trouble with authority, and Dawn is still upset that the Air Force wouldn't take her because of her age. She applied last week.

We placed the tree in my office this year. I only mention that it's in my office because it used to be my dining room, (the banjo plays softy), but I have added a desk and have decorated my writing space with my inflatable moose, which was shot from an inflatable gun by my buddy Nick.

I have my horse racing memorabilia, my record player, and my records. I'm into vinyl. (It just sounds kinky.) And I sit in front of the other brother in law's rolltop desk. He's not the one that I can't get rid of. Old Roll Top Desk, as I like to call him, skedaddled ...

Funny, it just hit me as I decided to light the tree one more time. I don't think that Dave, my recent college graduate son, got to see this year's tree since he moved to Vermont and worked the holiday. I wonder if that's why she left the tree up this year. I think he'll be home soon, because if it's up on Presidents Day weekend, it stays up.

Johnnie Carrier of North Adams is a freelance writer who always teases the fine folks in Pownal, Vt.

"Hey, I got a speeding ticket there; we're almost family."