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We live downtown. Trekking to the forest to cut down a Christmas tree each year doesn't fit for us. We prefer walking down to Pike Market, the 100+ year-old open air market that is a jewel in Seattle's downtown crown. A produce vendor sells trees at holiday time, and we've made it a tradition of picking one out and carrying it home to our apartment. Not everyone is willing to carry an eight-foot tree one mile through the city, with dogs and kids, but that's us.

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At the end of the holidays, the challenge becomes how to remove the tree from our apartment, through our building, to the trash room, with as little mess as possible. Dry, brittle pine needles break easily, and wrapping it in a sheet (the preferred apartment dweller's method) always leaves behind a long trail of needles to clean up. We've adopted a different tradition: after New Year's passes we cut our tree down. Branch by branch.

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It takes a few hours. But the slow methodical nature of clipping larger branches repeatedly into smaller and smaller bits until the whole tree is just a few bags of four-inch sticks, can be meditative. As a family we made the holidays together, and this is our way of bringing closure, appreciating what we have, and celebrating the end of another season. Plus the cleanup is a lot more contained.

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