Now for the conclusion that could happen to any of us . . .
Deanne marched straight past that demon-possessed piece of lumber into the formal dining area. She cracked open the adult beverage cooler and heard the satisfying clink as bottles gave way beneath her groping fingers. Forget the beer; skip the wine; she needed Jack. Jack was the only man capable of reassurances of this order. She grasped the bottle by the neck and drafted it into service. She slammed the door on the refrigerator and ignored the tiny glasses sitting above on the shelf. As she marched into the kitchen, she cracked the seal and stood by the bar evaluating that 8 foot enemy while discussing unorthodox methods of attack with General Daniels. After some excellent input that could have been measured by four fingers and a veto of her plan to torch the SOB for treason against the household, Deanne finally found the courage to make one last attack at subduing foreign foliage. The time was 19:30.
She pulled all four strands from the tree and cast them aside like last year’s politicians: full of promise and disappearing when you need them. She pulled four fresh strands from the Ark of the Christmas Covenant box and went to work. She put painstaking effort into her inspection. She put sweat into the fabric of her clothes. She put enough Jack into her bloodstream to warrant cirrhosis of the liver before sunrise, and still, she labored on.
With trembling hands she approached that tree for the last time. She knew this was it. Custer’s last stand. 300 Spartans against a behemoth. Deanne against the Frasier. As she buried her lacerated hands within its bowels, she knew she was going doing swinging. She began the ascent. She worked her way up a foot at a time, leaving no bark uncovered with tiny lights. As she crossed the equator of the trunk, she climbed on the foot stool with quaking knees. She ignored Mary Grace’s question about ornaments and kept her head down as she tightened the noose against Paul Bunyan’s legacy. She gained altitude and felt the air thin as she drove higher. As the trunk narrowed and the lights in her hand dwindled, she wrapped the last few coils until the tip of tree and lights met perfectly in harmony. She gently eased herself off the stool and took four steps backward, her eyes never leaving her foe. Because of her unwavering gaze, she saw strands two and three die as the image seared itself to her retinas.
Well, there was nothing left to do at this point but cuss, so Deanne set about it in a meticulous and thorough fashion with a hearty dose of passion mixed in. She started at the place the star should go and worked her way down, coating each and every needle in expletives. Then she saw the dangling Santa’s and reindeer that Mary Grace had insisted on adding and called them such names that her five year old’s vocabulary increased tenfold, and Deanne put herself so far down on the naughty list that she knew not to expect anything but coal until 2019. She even lambasted the baby angels until you could swear that a pink blush adorned their tiny, plastic faces. As Deanne sank into the depths of the carpet, Mary Grace went for reinforcements.
“Daddy! Mommy’s on the carpet crying, and laughing, and sucking her thumb!” And while that last part was a bit of yellow journalism used to sensationalize the event and drum up spectators, Ted had to admit that when he found his wife moments later, the rest of the report had been imbued with accuracy and integrity.
Deanne was partially incoherent but phrases of “I hate this whole freakin’ season!” kept slipping out, and she refused to relinquish her hold on the only other soldier down in the trenches with her, even if he was mostly out of ideas at this point. Ted moved Deanne out of the room and left Mary Grace to decorate while he called a few friends in the medical profession and tried to scare up some psychotropic drugs. The time was 22:00, and the war was finally over. A good soldier was down, and the PTSD would follow for years to come.
That year when Deanne took down the tree, whose lights never did illuminate its dark interior, she tossed the whole thing in the back of Ted’s truck, electrical trimmings and all. And true to her word, she’s keeping her boycott on anything mountain fresh. Just the other day a student named Hallie tried to sell her a tree for her church’s fundraiser, but Deanne refused to budge.
“But what about if I come to your house and decorate it for you?”
“I’ll only reconsider it if a bottle of 80 proof liquor comes with it, and even then the answer is no.”
A student named Timothy overheard this exchange and remarked, “That’s the most satanic thing I’ve ever heard.”
Perhaps. But until you’ve stood on that battlefield and looked your enemy face to bark, you really can’t judge. For those of you out there who have fought your own Christmas tree battles and lost, know that you aren’t alone. There are others out there, hurting just as you are with the shame of this secret. Whether you are forging on like a hollow shell and putting up that tree year after year for the sake of the family or cradling your head in your hands anytime you hear the hymn “O Christmas Tree,” lift your chins with pride. Holiday cheer comes at a cost, and it has been built on the mutilated forearms of those who have gone before us.
Peace be with you. And Merry Christmas.
© 2012 – Traci Carver