Dad never let us have a Tree. It’s not that he was religious. We didn’t go to temple or anything like that. I think it was his way of keeping us close to our roots.

Even though we knew what the answer would be, every year my sister and I would continue to ask for one. I can pretty much guarantee our voices climbed to that higher echelon of frequencies that are certain to make a father’s spine cringe and temples throb like the over-sized speaker cones in the trunk of a hood rat’s hooptie.

Still, he’d say “No.” Never raising his voice or growing angry. I didn’t realize at the time that this was his unique way of distributing holiday forgiveness to his children. Mom very wisely remained out of our yearly back and forth. She sat in the kitchen watching General Hospital with the TV turned up loud as it’s tiny plastic speaker would blare attempting to drown us out.

I’d visit my friend’s houses with their enormous trees covered in tinsel and ornaments and lights and candy canes. Toy train riding the rail in an oval around the living room, up the stairs, out the window, along the rain gutter, over the long bridge crossing the hot tub, through the garage, into the kitchen for a stop to pick up steamy mugs of hot chocolate with marshmallows and fudge striped cookies, behind the tree and hooting its whistle at the couch where we sat playing a brand new Sega Genesis. I might have embellished the scene a bit due to my jealousy.

But not too much.

Santa didn’t have a history of landing at the bottom of our chimney. Instead of preventing the plague of frogs or locusts, the swath of goat’s blood forming a star of David across our roof top identified us as the “Chosen”. Chosen not to have the awesomeness that was X-Mas! So, like all spoiled suburban kids, we rebelled the only way we knew how.

We complained.

That’s right. Watch out! Hell hath no fury like a 1980’s era pair of preteen brother and sister who want a crap ton of presents that they don’t really deserve but all the commercials and TV shows and store displays tell them otherwise.

Some say the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and continually receiving the same results. Take from that what you will.

Now that she has her own home, my sister goes all out. Any tree that enters her home is lucky. Martha Stewart has absolutely nothing on the perfection that is my sisters tree trimming. Every ornament matches, each strand of tinsel glistens, the lights spread a warm loving glow through the house unlike any you’ve ever seen. I live on the other side of the county now, so I eagerly anticipate the pictures she sends so I can feel some of her excitement and love for the season.

Our tree’s are a smaller, more improvised affair. We use multicolored ornaments with photos stuck in between branches. Clay hand imprints from when the minions were tiny. Holiday cards are usually put up there too. Our only struggle is keeping the dogs from drinking the tree water.

On top of the bookshelf across the room is where we place our Menorah. When we light the candles and sing the songs with the tree lights shining behind us in the darkened room it creates such a beautiful complimentary glow. Though he celebrated in his own different way, a big part of why I love the tree so much is it always keeps Dad in the room with us.



Dumb White Husband vs Santa

Erik has planned the perfect Christmas for his family. The plan is foolproof, bulletproof and flame retardant. Nothing can undo the hours of planning and preparation. Nothing but odd-shaped packages, ill-timed fruitcakes and an errant neighborhood Santa Claus. Get it now and have a Merry Christmas.




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  • reply Jan ,

    Alex – I always think of this season as the festival of lights – when we try to ward off the fear of darkness by candles and lighted trees because we are all the children of some unknowable chasm and particle of vision – light! Okay peace – a powerful bit of writing and I send you my warmest hopes for happy times in the dark!

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