2017
two thousand seventeen
Twenty-Seventeen
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OUT OF MY HEAD
By John Addyman

   My granddaughter, Lucie, had an ornament in her hand and was looking at me with a big question forming in her head.
   “Why are we listening to Christmas music?” she asked.
   “Because the tree likes it,” I told her.
   The look on her face changed as she said to herself, “Oh. Okay.”
   Lucie and her brother Jeremy were helping me take down the Christmas tree they had decorated. Following a tradition we had in our house when Lucie and Jeremy’s mom was growing up, we had an “adult” tree downstairs in the front room this Christmas, and a children’s tree upstairs. 


   The adult tree is our “gold” tree. Lots of older, more fragile, shinier ornaments. The kids’ tree, for the grandchildren now, is multicolored with lots of unbreakable ornaments. Part of our tradition is to let them decorate as much of it as possible. This holiday season, my grown son, Mike, helped out and put the ornaments on the higher branches.
   I hope the grandkids will grow up thinking about “their” tree in Granddad and Gammy’s house (our grandchildren call my wife “Gammy”; for a while it was “Binky”). As they grow older, I’m hoping they look forward to spending an afternoon or evening at our house, putting ornaments they love on their own special tree.
   This Christmas, we got our trees in Phelps. A classmate of mine had recommended a place where we could go cut our own tree, but the only day I could do that was Thursday, and the cut-your-own place was closed. So, I went to the place on the corner in Phelps last year and got two nice trees, but the sales guy wasn’t bargaining very much, and we picked up those trees just as few days before Christmas. If I hadn’t bought those trees, they were destined to be plywood or particleboard in a week. I thought the prices were a bit high.
   So we drove past that place this Christmas, and went a little farther down the road to a guy who sells trees from a lot next to his house. The thing that brought me there this year was that we looked quickly at his trees last year, and they were all gorgeous. Expensive, I thought, but gorgeous.
   Now I was in a bind. I had to do something on this particular Thursday or we weren’t going to have a Christmas tree.
   We parked the car and started looking for the right couple of trees. The first tree we walked up on was enormous – eight feet tall and just as wide. The trunk had to be nine inches across.
   I loved it.
   “How are we going to get that in the house, Dad?” Mike asked. It was an excellent question.
   I figured if the guy could bind up the tree for us, we might just squeeze it in the back door of the house. I asked him.
   “We don’t do any binding here,” he said.
   “By the way, how are you going to get that tree out of here?” he asked, looking at my Chevy Equinox.
   “We’ll tie it to the top,” I said. “And we’ll put the other one inside.” Then I remembered that Mike and I had my grandson Jaden along for the adventure, and his car seat took up a lot of room in the SUV.
   The guy looked at me, the tree, the SUV, Jaden, and said. “Hmmmm.”
    “Well, let’s look at other trees,” I suggested. Mike and I trudged into the collection the guy had on the lawn. Jaden was off like a rocket, and found a tree he liked. We all talked about it, looked at a couple of others, and kept coming back to Jaden’s tree.
   The guy was hovering close by.
   “We’ll take that tree,” I said, pointing to the tree Jaden was standing next to.
   “Bring it along,” the guy said. This was a serve-yourself place.
   Mike and I picked up Jaden’s tree – the kids’ tree – and lugged it to the car.
   We took another look at that first, big tree.
   Over the years, and after a couple thousand garage sales, my wife Gayle and I have collected a lot of ornaments. This big tree would take every ornament we had and then some. We would use ornaments we hadn’t seen in years, packed in boxes we hadn’t opened.
   I stood there, looking at the tree, seeing it in my mind in the front room, all lit up, with all our ornaments on it.
   Mike interrupted my yuletide reverie.
   “How are we going to get that tree in the house?” he asked. “And Dad, how are we going to get it home.”
   “We’ll just have to make two trips,” I said, thinking immediately that the second trip would be in the dark: the sun was starting to set.
   But the owner of the lot had a better idea.
   “Where do you live?” he asked.
   I told him we were in Newark, just off Rt. 88.
   “I’ll drive the trees to your house and you can unload them there,” he said. My mouth dropped open.
   “Merry Christmas!” I said to myself. “Hurrah!” Mike was right – we were never going to get the big tree on the Equinox and drive six miles with it. We’d need 100 feet or rope to tie it safely on the roof.
   “Great!” I told the guy. “Thank you!”
   Mike and I, with the guy’s help, put both trees INSIDE a huge van the guy had, and off we went. The guy followed us into Newark, and we pulled the trees out of the back of the van. We thanked him, shook his hand, and wished him a Merry Christmas.  
   The next night, Mike and I tied the big tree together with rope and somehow, got it into the house with me pushing on one side of the doorway and Gayle and Mike tugging on the tree from the other side. It took us half an hour.
   We got the kids’ tree upstairs a lot more easily, and Jaden started to decorate it right away. When Jeremy and Lucie took over the next night, the kids’ tree upstairs just glowed.
   Downstairs, the big tree required a lot more work. I put 300 lights on it and realized the sheer number of branches on the thing was absorbing all the light. I spent about three hours frantically searching the environs of Newark for simple white Christmas lights. I finally found what I believe were the last white lights in town at Secor, and I pretty much bought them out.
   In the end, the adult “gold” tree had just about 600 lights on it. When I hit the switch on that tree, the guys and gals at RG&E were throwing confetti and counting their bonus checks.
   We had two lovely trees, and I couldn’t have been happier.
   Here’s the thing: I’ve always loved the warmth a Christmas tree brings to a house. Time, energy and circumstance had blessed us with two beautiful trees. Gayle and I could enjoy one tree downstairs in the early evening, and revel in the glow of the kids’ tree when we went up to bed. It was a blessing.
   When Jaden helped me take the last ornaments off the big tree downstairs last Thursday, he noticed that I was playing Christmas music in the background. “Christmas is over,” he said.
   “The tree likes it,” I said.
   Jaden is a very analytical little five-year-old. He concentrates so hard on thinking that you can literally see all the Lego gears turning in his head.
   “How does the tree like it?” he asked.
   “A Christmas tree is alive,” I told him. “Yes, someone cut it down and we bought it and brought it here, but the tree is still alive. That’s why I water it every day and look after it when I get up in the morning and before I go to bed at night.
   “Every living thing has something special inside it, Jaden. Trees have a spirit inside. And I believe if you take care of your Christmas tree, if you respect it, love it, it loves you back. It glows, it has a wonderful smell, and it makes the holidays that much brighter.
   “I say ‘Good night’ to the tree every night, and I play Christmas music around it as much as I can. I think the tree feels the season with us and hears the voices. I am certain that your tree upstairs is most happy when you guys are around it.”
   Jaden looked at me. I know he’s going to think about what I said for awhile and come up with some off-the-wall question for me.
   But I’m ready.
   His mom did the same thing when she was his age.  
    

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1 Comment to "OUT OF MY HEAD -- for Jan 30 12"

  1. Anonymous Said,

    they were lucky trees to be reverenced by you

    Posted on Mon Jan 30, 05:41:00 AM EST

     

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