The tree is finally up and decorated.
It takes a while.
I mean Z only has so many hours in a day…especially with that whole saving lives thing…at least that’s what I’m told.
And she doesn’t like it when I suggest there are more hours in the night.
So it’s a process...one described in detail, in the past.
Anyway, now the tree is up and doing its whole Christmas Tree thing…despite its previous bad attitude.
Our tree had a bad attitude this year.
Notice I said “had”…it doesn’t any more.
I straightened it out…but it wasn’t easy.
And to be honest, which is always an uncertainty…especially with trees…especially with trees with bad attitudes…I was a little surprised.
Not something you’d expect from a Christmas tree…especially this time of year.
I was walking past it with my bowl of soup on Monday—the day after we lugged it into the house and got it situated in its usual spot in the living room—and I swore I heard muttering.
Nothing harsh or unusual, as far as muttering goes, but different from the normal muttering I’m used to hearing from my stomach around lunch time, which usually has to do with disagreement over my particular soup selection on any given day.
No, this was more of a mild, non-descript muttering, the kind you might hear when someone is making a passive aggressive point of displeasure.
I casually put my soup down on the table and walked back over to the tree.
“I’m sorry…I missed that.” I said. “Were you talking to me?”
Okay, I know…that sounds weird…me putting my soup down and talking to a tree.
You’re right…normally I would have eaten the soup, first…but this just seemed like something I needed to nip in the bud, before it got out of hand. The last thing I need during the holidays is a disgruntled tree badmouthing me to dinner guests. The guests are pretty adept at doing that themselves without help from an arbor-ant life form.
“No.” the tree said. “I was just talking to myself. No one usually eavesdropped when I was alone in the forest.”
Okay…now that’s a dig, I know…but I was big enough to let it go.
Instead, I thought I’d try a little tension breaking humor to lighten the mood.
“So I guess it’s true, then …if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear, it does make a sound…get it?”
“That’s not funny,” the tree said in a sharp, condescending tone. “Do you have any idea how many good friends I’ve lost in forest falls?”
“Uh…no…not really,” I said feeling somewhat admonished.
“No…I didn’t think you would, Mr. Oh look, there’s a perfect tree to stick in the corner of our living room…let’s just hack it right out of the ground, stuff it into our car and drive it home.”
But you were on a Tree Farm…not really in a forest forest. It’s what you were there for…to be chosen…honored, really.”
“Oh, please…just stop. Who told you that?”
“The guy down the hill who owns the place.”
“The chubby bald one who drives that insipid little mouse trap he calls a hay ride?”
“Of course there are mice in the hay, moron…it’s a farm isn’t it?”
Okay, now first, this annoys me because I’m not used to being a called a moron by a tree; they usually just call me dumb head. And second, I’m a little disappointed to find out it wasn’t that cute blond trying to get my attention on the back of the wagon, after all.
“Listen”, I say to the tree. “You had to know, one of these days someone was going to wander by and say, now there’s a tree I’d be proud to have decorate my house for Christmas! I mean isn’t that why you were planted in the first place?”
The tree just flipped one of its branches in my direction; an assortment of ornaments rattling and clanking together, holding tight to their new home.
“I don’t know why I was planted…sometimes I wish I never was. That no good, loser pinecone I sprang from should have just left my seed to rot inside….”
Hoo boy, I thought. A tree suffering an existential crisis with daddy issues, to boot. We picked a doozy this year.
“But just look at how good you look, right now. Lights, tinsel, shiny bright ornaments of every shape and design hanging from limb to limb.”
“Really?” the tree said. Is that the argument you’re going with…the whole, you light up the dark holiday night, bit….really?”
“Well, you do”, I answered.
“How would you like all this glitz hanging off of every one of your appendages, Holiday Boy…every one?”
An image raced through my brain that made me wince. “Okay, look, I get it. A few days ago you were planted squarely in the woods, hanging with all your squirrel, bunny and bird buds.”
“And now look at me….”
“Now, you look amazing…you’re everything you were always meant to be…look.”
I showed the tree the picture I took of it last night. “Not too shabby, huh?”
“I suppose, there’s a certain charm to me…different from before, but charm none the less.”
“Charm…are you kidding? You’re the focal point of the room…the whole house.”
“I always did picture myself as an attention grabber…but year after year people just walked right past me…as if I didn’t exist…as if I didn’t matter.”
I noticed a small trickle of sap rolling down the tree's upper most limb. Ahhhh…now we were getting to the root of the problem…so to speak.
“But you did matter,” I said. “You just had to wait until your time had come…until both our times came together. And now you matter to us, and you will to everyone who walks in our house and makes a fuss over you. To all the little kids and their holiday hearts, young and old…you will more than matter….right through the New Year.
I wasn’t really sure where I was getting all of this stuff, but I guess all those endless hours spent watching Hallmark Christmas movies were finally paying off.
“I suppose you’re right,” the tree said. It was standing a little taller, a little straighter, now… proud to finally apply Christmas to its name.
“I know I’m right!”
I gave a little tug of solidarity to one of its lower limbs and jangled a couple of ornaments loose in the process.
The Christmas tree just shot me a look. “Don’t push it…okay? I think you’re lunch is getting cold….”
And with that, we shared a smile…or what passes for a tree smile….and I ran off to reheat my soup.
“Hey”, the Christmas tree called after me. “What happens after the New Year….where do I go then?”
“What…?” I shouted from the kitchen. “I can’t hear you…the microwave is making too much noise….”
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