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Suburban Island

The Christmas Tree Rescue
Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2003, 9:00 p.m.

QUESTION: Where'd you get the tree?

What I Learned: Virtue can be inexpensive.

We put off buying the Christmas tree until the weekend before Christmas as part of our annual Christmas tree negotiation package. In my house there are two concurrent Christmas tree perspectives. The kids and I want a big tree, a grand tree, a tree that screams - Happy Holidays. My husband wants an invisible tree or lacking that – a small tree, a self-effacing tree, a tree that shouts – me, you think I’m a Christmas tree?

And so the stage is set. This year, the saga of the Christmas tree continued in good form. My husband had volleyed the first shot over the net last month. It was the surgery card. Yes, his surgery in November meant he needed a quiet, unassuming, barely-there Christmas. Poor dear - as if. It was a good try however and it bought him a few weeks of Christmas-tree-free time. We put off getting a Christmas tree at our house until the weekend before Christmas. My husband almost blew the whole thing by feigning a memory mishap – specifically, he suddenly didn’t remember that he had ever really agreed to bringing a tree into the house this year. That almost cost him a high-dollar, 7 ˝-foot high, mega tree. We had mercy on him though because he did put the lights on the bushes outside our house and even dragged out the Christmas deer – even though their heads no longer bob up and down in a sort of eternal holiday lawn grazing action – and we didn’t even have to beg.

This past Saturday, I had cleaned up the family room enough that it was suitable for The Tree. The next morning, we drove out into the Sunday sunshine in search of the tree – that special tree. The tree that would be the center of our holiday happiness – such as it would be. A small one – said my husband. Sure – winked my son and I. The battle had begun.

On the way to the Christmas tree lot, fate smiled upon us however. Tossed out onto the ground beside a tree lot that had recently shut down its operation was a handful of orphaned trees. How heartless is that – these poor trees looking forward to a warm shiny-bright holiday tossed unceremoniously onto the cold ground with not a scrape of tinsel in sight. Well, let me tell you, all that was about to change.

In the wink of an eye, a tree that only had one really good side but a big evergreen heart and a desire to celebrate Christmas 2003 with any takers was riding home with us and on its way to a glam make-over. Upon arriving home it was in a proper stand and ready for a transformation in one blink of a red reindeer nose. Like Charlie Brown in one of my favorite holiday specials, we had stumbled upon a cast-off tree, given it a little love, and found it to be – with a little attention – a splendid Christmas evergreen that scraped the ceiling in a way that satisfied the need-a-big-tree requirement of most of the household.

In keeping with the Charlie Brown tradition we kept it simple. We yanked out our simpler light strands and left the fancy sorts in the plastic storage bin. We didn’t pull down the heavy boxes of our regular ornaments this year but - as a present to my husband and a bow to the Peanut Gang’s classic taste - sprung for a half dozen boxes of those inexpensive round shiny glass ornaments that can be purchased at every self respecting Target and Walmart. We popped our Christmas star on the top and voila – one rescued tree at home for the holidays and doing it in retro-style.

As I am sure our tree would say if it could only speak – Christmas time IS here.

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