I work in a small, country school. It’s a great place to be at Christmas, even one overshadowed by the ominous threat of a virus, because kids are always filled with anticipation, innocent wonder and the joy of the season.
The other day, while enjoying a moment of rest in the staff room, our school principal shared a humorous memory of Christmas trees gone wrong. Funny how it’s always the bad experiences we recall the best.
Since it’s the time of year for such reminiscence, I thought I’d share one of mine with you. Hope it brings you a smile.
Snow swirled outside the frosty window panes of my childhood home, and dark clouds hung ominously in the sky. It was the year 1975. A winter storm had raged the night before, but our old cook-stove blazed within, and we were toasty warm as our family met in the kitchen for breakfast. Today we were to drive into the nearby town and purchase a tree.
My little brother Bill and I were excited.
“We aren’t going to get a Christmas tree this year,” Dad suddenly stated over his porridge bowl. He held up a hand to silence our immediate protests. “Buying a tree is like throwing good money to the wind. I’ve got a better idea.”
With long faces, Bill and I stared at one another. What did he mean, “no tree“?
It was unthinkable!
After eating, we watched as Dad pulled on his heavy work clothes and bent to pick up an evil looking hand-saw he’d left beside his boots. Wordlessly he flung open the door and set off through the deep snow toward a line of firs near the barn.
Before long he reappeared, dragging what looked like a tall tree behind him. Breathlessly I turned to tell my little brother.
“That’s no tree,” Bill said dryly, clambering onto a chair to look. “It’s a fat branch.”
And so it was. Proudly Dad dragged it into the house and with no small effort, strapped it to the living-room wall using several yards of binder twine and a box of nails.
Later that evening, feeling pleased with himself, Dad proposed a toast.
“Let’s celebrate with eggnog,” he said, rubbing his hands together with invisible soap.
No doubt about it, the man was on a roll. Earlier that day he’d happily presented Mom with a blender; a pre-Christmas gift.
She’d been absolutely thrilled! What woman wouldn’t? (Our family may be cheap but sarcasm’s free).
Dad tugged the shiny new appliance from its box, fitted the glass container into position, and began adding the ingredients he’d found listed in an included recipe.
With a flourish he pressed the ON button, the machine sprang to life and the assembled family broke into spontaneous applause. (We were simple folk and easily amused).
As our eagerly anticipated beverage spun to a halt, Dad handed out glasses, grasped the handle and hoisted it on high.
The bottom portion of the jug and its contents gushed forth, spraying the floor, the dog and our feet with ice cold eggnog. Dad hadn’t tightened the bottom.
And so, as we gathered round our scrawny Christmas branch that evening, and gazed at the brightly wrapped gifts shoved against the wall, we raised celebratory glasses of water to clink together with joy.
After all, it’s not about the tree, the gifts or the food—it’s about love.