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Sharon Randall: Christmas isn’t just for kids

By Sharon Randall
Scripps Howard News Service
What is it about Christmas that makes kids try to be ěgoodî and old people act like kids?
For weeks, my husband has been nagging, ěCan we please put the tree up now?î
The man loves Christmas.
I love it, too. But I can usually wait for it until Christmastime.
Before Halloween, he started itching to put the tree up. OK, maybe it was November, but it felt like October. The holidays seem to come earlier every year.
I remember as a child thinking Christmas could never come soon enough. In summer, Iíd start begging my mother to put our tree up. I had to start early to make sure she didnít forget.
Christmas trees were not her favorite thing. I donít know what her favorite thing was, but it was definitely not a tree.
She didnít like having to go out and get one, so she left that to my stepfather. She didnít like decorating it, so she left that to me. And she really didnít like taking it down after Christmas and cleaning up the mess. But we could never do it to suit her, so she did that herself.
Finally, when I was 10 or so, she came up with a solution: A fake aluminum tree that folded up for storage, and left no sticky needles on the floor.
I hated it. It looked like a TV antenna covered with toilet brushes. Have you ever tried to decorate a TV antenna covered with toilet brushes? Trust me, you donít even want to try.
A few days after Christmas, I got on a bus to go see my dad and his parents on their farm. When I told my grandmother about the fake tree, she said, ěYour mama works too hard.î
The next morning, she shook me awake and said, ěCome see your Christmas tree.î
Outside the kitchen window stood a giant fir covered in fresh snow. And there on its highest branch sat the perfect crowning ornament ó a cardinal.
In the stillness and beauty and surety of that moment, with my grandmotherís breath warm on my neck, I forgot the fake tree and my motherís troubles and the doll that I had wanted, but would never get. And suddenly it was Christmas.
So it always is. If Santa only comes while weíre sleeping, Christmas only comes when weíre wide-eyed awake to the gifts that are ours every day.
My mother finally got rid of the fake tree, thanks to a change in her nerve medications and the fact that we had to keep adjusting the toilet brushes to avoid interference in TV reception.
I vowed never to have a fake Christmas tree. Iím learning to be more careful of what I vow.
After my husband and I moved to the desert outside Las Vegas, we kept buying fresh Christmas trees that wouldnít last a week before dropping their needles.
Finally, we gave up and bought a fake tree. It doesnít look, smell or feel like a real tree. It doesnít pretend to be what itís not. Everybody knows itís fake.
But itís green, not aluminum; covered in branches, not toilet brushes; and it doesnít interfere with our TV reception.
Iím not crazy about it, but I donít hate it. Especially when I see how happy it makes my husband to drag it from the garage to the living room.
Itís standing there now, all crooked and lopsided, beat up from storage, looking as if it had to fight all the other fake trees in the world for the privilege of spending Christmas with us.
Tomorrow, weíll straighten it out, patch it up, cover it with lights and an angel, a few treasured ornaments and the snowflakes my grandmother crocheted for me.
It will still be a fake tree. But it will come alive with the spirit of a real Christmas, and with the little-boy laughter of a grown man who reminds me that Christmas is not just for kids.

Contact Sharon Randall at www.sharonrandall.com.

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