'Everything Bright & Colorful..'
photo by M.C. Kauffman
All Christmas Trees are Beautiful
by Mike Harpold
I picked out the tree alone
this year, Elaine was at work and our daughters too involved
in teen things. I placed it in its stand in the corner of our
living room, enjoying the fresh pine scent that filled the warm
room. The branches sprang open as I cut away the twine that had
held them in a tightly wound cocoon, and I stepped back and admired
this beautiful tree that had been grown and shaped just for us
to enjoy this Christmas season, and to live in our Christmas
memories for the rest of our lives.
"It's ugly," said
a teen voice behind me. I had thought I was alone.
"What's wrong with it?"
I asked defensively.
"It's got a big hole in
the middle, and the top's all crooked. I bet you didn't even
look at it before you bought it." The top was bent over
at a forty-five degree angle, which admittedly was going to make
positioning our treetop angel a little tricky, and at least a
foot of bare trunk was visible all the way around about midway
up, but nothing a few garlands couldn't cure.
"Take it back," the
"I bought it at the Salvation
Army," I said, hoping the point about buying it from the
Salvation Army would trump any further arguments about the tree's
ascetics. It did.
In an annual ritual, my mother
used to accuse my Dad of bringing home the most pitiful Christmas
tree on the lot simply because he felt sorry for it. Dad only
smiled. It was an article of faith with him that there was no
such thing as an ugly Christmas tree.
Decorating the tree was his
job which he did each year on the night of our school's Christmas
pageant, while Mom bundled up the five of us kids and hustled
us off to the basement of St. Mary's School where we dutifully
played our parts in front of an audience of beaming parents.
We always hurried home afterwards, stopping only to admire the
collage of light and tinsel visible through the frost on our
front window before rushing into the house to view the wonderful
tree Dad had created in our absence.
Dad's trees were collections
of everything bright and colorful he could collect: tinsel stars,
balls and bells, all the working lights he could muster, tinsel
birds with fiberglass tails, toy soldiers, plastic Santa's, tinsel
garlands supplementing the popcorn and cranberry garlands we
kids laced together earlier in the day, and tinsel icicles on
the branches, lots of icicles. -
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Monday - December 22, 2003 - 1:15 am