A Christmas Tree That Smiles?
By Cappy Hall Rearick
“When it comes to Christmas trees, less is more,” my friend said. Convinced that he has discovered the secret to simplicity, sensibilities and holiday sanity, he is promoting what he calls The Small Christmas Tree Comeback Initiative.
“We bought a little tree this year and placed it on a table in front of the window. From the street, it looks huge! And last night before turning in, I gazed at the pretty little thing for a while before saying, Lights out! And then, it smiled at me.”
My friend and I share two things: we both write columns and we both drink martinis.
It is early morning, but Babe manages to talk our yardman into helping him bring up our 14-foot, pre-lit tree that has been stored since last Christmas in what passes as a basement in St. Simons Island.
Once they get it upstairs (cobwebs and all), they stack the three separate pieces on top of each other in an upright position. Well, upright might be an overstatement; it is bending heavily toward the kitchen and looking a lot like a piece of cooked spaghetti.
It is definitely not smiling. Tilting at windmills, maybe, but not smiling.
We plug it in, but only half of the 16,000 twinkle lights come to life the way they are supposed to. The other half lays dormant as though even more weary than a Mall Santa Claus at the end of the season. For over an hour, Babe and I look in vain for a plug that we think should be buried somewhere within the plastic tree branches. The Chinese people have a lot to answer for.
The tree cannot even manage a grin.
We are having a swell (sic) time trying to get the stubborn thing to light up, when Babe’s scheduled bridge game trumps our merry Ho Ho Ho’s. He hurries out the door promising to finish the job upon his return. Seriously aggravated, I take off to the grocery store where I spend the equivalent of a two-week vacation on the French Riviera. On the way home, I remember to buy some spruce pine Christmas tree scent with which I intend to drench the artificial tree.
After the dousing, however, neither the tree nor I are smiling, so I make chocolate fudge and eat every piece of it.
Upon Babe’s return, he looks at the lopsided half-lit tree that smells more like a Lysol-cleaned public restroom than a spruce pin. He says, “This calls for a martini. Maybe what we need to do is lighten up a bit ourselves, so we can figure out whatever is wrong with the lights.”
So we sit side by side in front of a crackling fire, sipping elixir imported from Russia while the north wind descends and blows up a storm outside. And we gaze at the imported Chinese half-lit, non-smiling Leaning Tower of Bejing, previously known as last year’s Christmas tree.
“I have an idea,” says I.
“Forget it, Cappy. We don’t have any more extension cords and Ace Hardware has run out of them too. I checked,” says he.
“I’m thinking we should just get rid of the dang thing. The yardman probably knows somebody who would love to have a 14-foot tree with 16,000 moody twinkle lights. Pay the man twenty-five bucks and see if he’ll take it off our hands or dump it some place where the sun don’t shine.”
I can tell Babe is warming to the idea, even though he didn’t think of it himself. Hey, it’s a man thing.
Staring at the lopsided, half-lit tree, he finally lets out a turbo sigh. “What would we do for a tree,” says he.
“We buy a small one that we can take to the shredder in the Winn-Dixie parking lot before New Year’s Day. I’ll pop some popcorn to string while you look in storage boxes for old lights. We’ll have us a jolly time decorating it like people used to do back in the day before China started manufacturing artificial pre-lit Christmas trees that don’t light up.”
“Our grandparents wouldn’t have stooped so low as to have a plastic tree,” says he.
“Tacky,” says I.
“Seriously,” says he.
“My friend told me that his small tree smiled at him. Maybe ours will too.”
Babe rolls his eyes. “You might want to cut back on the martinis, Cappy,” says he.
“Or maybe not,” says I. “The world needs more smiles.”