By Cappy Hall Rearick
“When it comes to Christmas trees, less is more,” proclaimed Bud Hearn. Convinced that he had found the secret to simplicity, sensibilities and holiday sanity, he initiated the SCTC: The Small Christmas Tree Comeback Initiative.
“We bought a little tree this year” he told me, “and placed it on a table in front of the window. From the street, it looked huge! And guess what else? Last night before I went to bed, I stopped to admire the pretty little thing and it smiled at me.”
Bud and I are both writers and both of us have been known to sip a martini or two, which may account for his having a flirtatious tree. Just saying.
At our house Babe talked our yardman into bringing up our 14-foot, pre-lit tree stored since last Christmas in what passes for a basement in St. Simons, which as even a first grader knows is below sea level.
Once they got it upstairs (cobwebs and all), they stacked the three separate pieces on top of one another in an upright position. Well, upright might be a slight overstatement; the limbs twisted toward the kitchen and looked like the leaning tower of too many crantinis.
It was not smiling. Tilting drunkenly maybe, but smiling? Not so much.
When we plugged it in, only half of the 26,000 twinkle lights sprang to life the way they should have. The other half sagged on the branches like Santa after a belly full of spiked eggnog. For over an hour, Babe and I searched for a plug that should have been buried within the plastic tree limbs. Those Chinese people have a lot to answer for.
Our tree wasn't even grinning. If anything, it copped an attitude and smirked.
We were trying to be jolly while hoping the stubborn thing would miraculously light up, when Babe’s scheduled bridge game trumped our merry Ho Ho Ho’s. Dashing through the door, he promised to get it working before next Christmas.
Seriously annoyed, I took off to Tweeter’s and spent the equivalent of a two-week vacation on the French Riviera. Among my purchases, however, was a can of pine Christmas spray to which I drenched the fake tree. Even after the dousing, the tree didn’t smile so I made a batch of chocolate fudge and ate every piece of it.
When Babe returned, he stared at the lopsided, half-lit tree that by then smelled like a Texaco restroom recently cleaned with Lysol. He said, “Let's get ourselves lit and figure out how to lighten up this sad tree. I’ll make the crantinis; you find the Andy Williams Christmas CD.”
So we sat side-by-side in front of a crackling fire, sipping Russian elixir mixed with cranberry juice. And we gazed at the imported half-lit, non-smiling Leaning Tower of Beijing, previously thought to be the last Christmas tree we would ever need to buy.
“Here’s an idea,” said I.
“Forget it. We have no more extension cords. Ace Hardware ran out, too. I checked,” said he.
“Let’s just get rid of it. The yardman probably knows somebody who would love to have a 14-foot tree with 26,000 moody twinkle lights. Pay him twenty-five bucks to take it off our hands or dump it where the sun don’t shine. Fake trees don’t need sunlight.”
I could tell Babe liked my idea, even if he hadn't thought of it himself. Hey, it’s a man thing.
Staring at the lopsided, half-lit tree, he let out a turbo sigh before asking, “What would we do for a tree?"
“New rule. We embrace Bud's SCTC and buy one we can take to the shredder after Christmas. I’ll pop popcorn to string while you look for old lights. We’ll do like people used to do back in the day.”
He gave me a look. “Back in what day?”
“Back before China began exporting fake pre-lit Christmas trees that don’t light up.”
He shook his head. “You’re right. Our forefathers wouldn’t have stooped so low as to have a plastic tree,” said he.
“Tacky,” said I.
“Seriously,” said he.
“Bud's little tree smiled at him. Maybe ours will too.”
Babe rolled his eyes. “Uh, you might want to cut back on the crantinis, Sweetie Pie,” said he.
“Or maybe not,” said I. “The world needs more smiles.”
Cappy latest book, The Road to Hell is Seldom Seen, is now available in ebook form only at Amazon. It's a totally different type of story from Cappy, a very pleasant surprise. Her other 5 books are also available in ebook and print form.