We Wish You a Merry

You always think, or hope, that holidays are going to be special, memorable.

And, then, they all kind of blend into one year, one Christmas. You can't remember if that was 1978 or 1984, or the year that Grandma fell in the garage, or the St. Bernard ate all the Christmas cookies while you were at church.

But, in the long run, I guess the year really doesn't matter. You can always check the back of the photographs, hoping that you dated them, if it's really important. And if you didn't, you can always say, well, "Cathy looks about 4", or "Chris was just a baby."

There was the year the St. Bernard ate all the turkey drippings and belched about the time the static electricity hit her, causing the gas that had built up inside to explode, burning off her eye lashes and whiskers. We remembered that holiday, if not the year. So did Brandy, if dogs have memories.

Christmas trees sort of all run together, too, after awhile. The same decorations, collected year after year. The tree with the birds nest in it. The tree that had long needles. The tree that lost all the needles before Christmas. The year it fell off the top of the Jeep in front of Daly Chevrolet.

The years when we ran fish wire from the top of the Christmas tree to the ceiling, so the cats wouldn't fell the tree when they attempted to climb it. The year we didn't wire it, the year the tree fell, crashing across the glass coffee table.

There was the 20-foot Christmas tree the year I told the guy to deliver one that went to the highest point of the Cathedral ceiling. He called the office and said he'd delivered in the driveway, but he sure didn't know how I was going to get it in the house.

It weighed more than any two, or three, people could possibly handle. So we recruited our neighbors, strong teens, to help us shove it into the house through the sliding glass door.

The borrowed boys helped Curt and me get it upright, and it did, indeed, touch the top of the cathedral ceiling. A Christmas tree stand just wouldn't hold it. So we got a bucket from the garage to stand it in, and Curt sent me off to the hardware store, while he and the helpers stood by holding the tree up, to get sand, to weight the bucket down.

The closest hardware store didn't have sand. Being creative, I bought a bag of sacrete. And hauled it home, and into the house.

Never send a woman to buy sand. Curt was not happy. Sacrete was not the answer. It would get wet, it would clog up the bottom of the tree, you couldn't water the tree, it was a dumb idea. He wanted sand. I could either hold up the tree, or go get sand. Off into the darkness to the next hardware store for sand.

"What kind of sand?" the young clerk asked.

"Any kind of sand, please, and fast," I replied, as the clerk started listing options.

"Coarse sand, fine sand, sandbox sand...what are you going to use it for."

"Any bag will do...heavy sand! But make it a big bag. Maybe two bags. It has to hold the Christmas tree up. And, while you're getting it, get me a half dozen 8-inch bolts, at least 8 inches, longer if you've got 'em."

"Lady, I won't even ask why."

Home again, with sand, lots of sand, and the precious bolts. We filled the bucket with the sand, but the tree still wouldn't stand alone.

I held the tree. Curt constructed braces, big ones out of long boards, in a teepee effect, which he bolted through the carpeting, right into the floor.

We decorated that mammoth tree with every single decoration we'd ever collected, and it looked magnificent. Visitors were awestruck. We enjoyed hours of sitting around on the floor near that tree. We had to sit on the floor because we had to move most of the furniture out of the living room to make room for the tree.

Reality hit, shortly after New Years. Hauling the tree in was a lot easier than it was going to be to haul that tree out. The branches had been tightly bound to the trunk on the way in. Now they were full and billowing. And, well, it wouldn't, couldn't, go out the door.

Santa to the rescue! He'd left a chainsaw for Curt, and it was put to use sawing the tree into manageable pieces. In fact, the entire family spent most of the day sawing the tree into pieces and hauling it to the curb, then vacuuming the remains.

No, not this year. One of those was enough for a lifetime.

So we just added some new memories this year and, a Christmas we'll remember forever. Just like your Christmas.

Did I tell you that all animals can talk at midnight on Christmas Eve? If, and only if, there aren't any people around to hear them?

It's true. I learned it, well I think it was about 1945, and...

Merry Christmas!

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