Saturday’s children woke up surly. Accusations had to be made; threats needed to be spread thick. Blinds drawn to hide the group’s darkened fears and shady mistrusts abruptly flew open between pouring coffee, loading laundry and steaming showers. Shouts filled the air. Feet stomped. Tempers scurried from room to room, seeking absolution.
Only the youngest child wore a steadfast grin, for the fake tree is to be put up today.
Fiscal responsibilities and thick carpet made the final decision. Last year’s item will emerge from its box in the garage to be put together, broomstick limb-by-limb. It will have to do.
“It just looks hideous.”
“Why is there a forty-nine-cent tag hanging on that branch?”
“Get down from there right now, before you topple the thing.”
David insists on placing a gaudy tinsel-wrapped star at the top right away, all by himself. The heavy star, the one with its double-strand and green electrical cord, designed for tall robust trees. Real trees; trees that give off pine-scents. Trees with sharp needles that prick hands while hanging ornaments.
Time-worn boxes of decorations and tangled strings of lights set nearby. The sparse tree first gets wrapped with several lengths of the tiny lights. A fancy bulb is handed off next, and then a plain one.
More follow, and then a nutcracker soldier joins in. He swings from a central branch, held by a golden thread. Ceramic hearts, small puffy cloth boxes resembling gifts, along with an assortment of fabric animals, soon sway back and forth as other miniature objects, collected over the years, are added.
A droll moose wearing a red and blue fez is new. One leg crossed over the other, he dreamily strums his guitar while sitting on a bucket. And why not?
An elegant little angel goes up last. Her tiny heart-shaped lips pucker; her black hand-painted eyes eternally stare; her silken gown sprouts padded wings. Her glory and all that she represents then proclaim.
“Plug in the lights!”
My cup drained and rinsed, we all stand back and smile.
Merry Christmas, everyone.