Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

Christmas monster

Christmas 2007Not all elements of every Christmas are perfect. That’s a good thing. Where would Hallmark Christmas movies be if they were?

Following is a rerun of a newspaper column originally published in December 2009. Be honest; it makes you think of something in one of your Christmases. Please share your story.

Christmas monster

There’s a monster in our house … and we put it there.

What were we thinking?

Some people do not like cedar trees, but we nurture and have even transplanted several around our property. We particularly like to encourage those cedars between the road and us because they stay full and green year-round, making excellent sound and sight buffers.

However, we’ve had a couple of small trees along the back fence line in areas where we do not want them to grow, but they are too large to transplant. Therefore, they have been waiting for an opportunity to serve as Christmas trees.

Last Sunday was tree-decorating day around our household. There was a cold drizzle outside when we got home from church and a couple of errands. After changing clothes and grabbing lunch, we were well into the afternoon and Leah was still making preparations. I hustled out to saw down the chosen tree in order to get it inside in time for the Dallas Cowboys kickoff and the beginning of their latest holiday tradition – a December swoon.

The tree designated for Christmas 2009 had a bare trunk for more than six feet but nice growth from there on up. I propped a stepladder against the tree and sawed it off, the rain on my saw blade dampening my efforts just a bit.

In short order, the tree was down and I attempted to prop it up on the back porch.

Uh, no, it wouldn’t fit there, neither height nor girth.

“Leah, would you come out here a second?”

It was much taller than we anticipated. I grabbed something to hold over my head as a measuring device, gauged the height of the tree and walked into the living room.

Our intention was to place the tree between the front door and the fireplace, but that is the lower end of our angled ceiling. It is a minimum of eight feet tall, but much too short, we quickly determined. Additionally, the tree did not have quite the traditional shape we envisioned.

Let’s just say it had a bit of a free spirit.

We decided to locate the tree in the living room, in front of a window where the ceiling is probably 16-18 feet high.

That fixed one problem, but honesty forced us to look at the shape of the tree. One side was rather barren, so we clipped off the few limbs poking out that way and decided it would go against the wall.

On an adjacent side, several limbs raced way out of proportion, giving the tree a decidedly lopsided appearance. More whacking helped there.

All along, I kept thinking about the 1965 TV special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” where the Peanuts gang transforms an ugly tree, the last on the lot, into something beautiful.

We positioned the tree and I had to tie it off because it was too unbalanced to stand by itself. The lights and ornaments – an eclectic collection garnered through the years, most with distinctive memories – filled the branches and the tree became … well …

“That’s one ugly tree,” I finally said.

“Yes,” Leah confirmed, “but it’s our tree.”

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