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Suburban Island

Oh Christmas Tree
Monday, Dec. 30, 2002, 6:45 p.m.

Question: Where Are Santa’s Elves When You Need Them?

What I Learned: Good Things Come to Those That Wait.

The morning of the 23rd of December was sunny and our resolve was firm. Christmas Eve was brushing up against us and Christmas Day was a jingle beyond that. In our family room the 7-foot artificial tree sat darkly – a few paltry strands of lights wound around it. All the ornaments were still sitting in boxes or scattered on the coffee table – victims to the exacting needs of this tree for ornaments that were not too heavy or too large or too fragile. Too fragile being the operative concept here, as glass ornaments hung every year on the sturdy boughs of jolly pines and firs dropped from this tree’s branches like icicles warmed by the sun. Each time an ornament was attached to the tree, the potential for the entire tree, stand and all to tip over onto the unlucky ornament hanger-upper seemed to increase. Each lost ornament hit the ground with a dainty explosion like a cherry bomb made of china.

Perhaps it was the fact that both my son and I had burst in on my sleeping husband at 3 in the morning the night before to whine about the tottering fake tree and having to drag ourselves out from under the thing while catching ornaments catapulting through the air at the speed of light. Maybe it was just the desperation of knowing that the Christmas clock was ticking relentlessly away. It’s hard to say but to my amazement my husband, the man who was had finally gotten the live tree out of his house for at least one Christmas season, grabbed the big white box and send me off to de-light the tree. The strands of lights seemed to fly off the tree under my frenzied fingers and in another few minutes the artificial, fiber-optic dream-turned-nightmare was re-boxed and ready for return.

With the box still on the floor, we rushed out to the nearest Lion’s Club lot and for a bargain price brought home a tree that was rounder, taller, and more luxurious than any we had ever had the pleasure to host before. It was so big that its top scratched across our ceiling. The house reeked of Christmas the second it was dragged through the door. By the end of the day the tree was covered with so many strands of lights that it glowed like a hundred Rudolph noses. It was decked out with every ornament – heavy and fragile, gaudy and goofy – that we could yank out of our stacks of storage boxes given our timeline.

Our stab at artificiality was well-meant but perhaps doomed for ultimate failure from the very start. Maybe after all those years of real-tree picking we just didn't have the requisite know-how to choose a good facsimile. Maybe that fiber-optic dazzle overcame our good sense. Maybe we just weren’t meant to go about our Christmas holiday without vacuuming up pine needles from every corner of the house and crawling about on all fours trying to pour water into a tree stand without dislodging bottom-hanging ballerinas and toy soldiers and such.

My husband is talking about taking the holiday decorations. Poor thing – well maybe he can take down those reindeer out front. As for the Christmas tree - not a chance. This tree is staying until the needles start to hit the floor like raindrops.


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