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Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Christmas Tree Fiasco

Category: Issue 11

Cold crisp air cut at me like shards of glass. I didn’t want to be there. Not at the Christmas tree farm. Not that day. Not any day. I wanted to be home in a chair by a warm fire drinking a beer and watching a football game. But I didn’t have a fireplace and there was no football on. So I stood there freezing to death staring at the Christmas tree. I hated the Christmas tree. It was barren in splotches and crooked. It looked like a cranky little old man with scoliosis and liver spots. The hand painted sign that stood next to it was such a cliché that it nauseated me violently. ‘XMAS trees $25 and UP!’ It read in crooked red dripping lines. I wanted to leave badly but my kids were foaming at the mouth. They danced around the ugly little naked fur tree like they had captured it and wanted to drag it back to the cave and cook it over an open pit. I feared if I left empty handed I might not make it back to my truck.

“Oooooooooheeee—- canwe-canwe-canwe-canwe—DAD!”

I looked at the little girl in the mittens. Of course they had a little girl sell Christmas trees and of course she wore mittens. She probably wore mittens in the middle of July. They had to have a cute little mitten lined girl sell $25 and up trees so that there was absolutely positively no way anyone could be forced to help you get the thing in the car. It was a hideous little racket, this Christmas tree business.

“How much?” I asked.

“That one’s forty-five dollars, mister.”

Of course it was. A grown man, mittens or not, saying such a thing would likely get blackened eyes many times over.

My wife was to blame for this. Actually, I think she might be the one to blame for everything else, too, but she was definitely to blame for this. Twelve years of marriage, good years, I thought, thrown down the tubes. All those years we had that lovely little metal tree that was easy to take out, easy to put up, easy to take down and put away, but no. New house. New tree.

I settled up with the little Hitler youth in mittens and wrestled the tree onto the hood of the car. I rolled it onto the roof, it rolled off. I cussed. It laid there. The kids laughed, thinking Daddy was making a silly Christmas play. I bungeed the thing onto the roof trying to find places to put all the hooks, there were hooks everywhere from my radio antenna to my steering wheel to one of my kid’s retainers. We got a whole half mile before it flew off the roof the first time. By the third time it flew off I’d had enough. I forced that little nightmare into the trunk and bungeed it down and drove twelve miles an hour all the way home getting cussed out by everybody in town. A menonite preacher in a horse and buggy gave me the bird. I deserved it.

I got it into the house looking like a porcupine with a nervous rash. Clearly the tree had won this war. My wife asked me to straighten the tree and I laughed at her heartily and sat down and watched SportCenter. They decorated it, her and the other little hunter-gatherers. At the end, they stood there beaming at it proudly as if they’d done something. And why not, I was the one with permanent scars.

My wife climbed beneath the tree to plug in the lights.

“Owww.” she shrieked, wriggling out from beneath the tree. She pulled a pine needle from her cheek. “It BIT me!” 

Maybe there was some Christmas magic left after all!

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