• 75°

Straight and unadorned, a tree ties Christmas together

My father, God rest his soul, had a weird sense of humor.

It sort of took you by surprise.

In retirement, he sometimes slept in, allowing everybody to wake up, gather in the kitchen and have their morning breakfast or coffees. When he finally walked in, he would ask innocently, “Am I the first one up?”

You had to be there to appreciate it.

Likewise, during Christmas, Dad showed impeccable timing in delivering another line. All the presents might be stacked under our tree, the outside lights were on, a holiday show would be playing on television, and Mom might have just baked a batch of Toll House cookies.

Dad would walk into the room and state the obvious matter-of-factly, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

Really, it was funny.
I’m writing this from my dining room table, just two days before Christmas. The table itself lies between periods of gluttony. It holds only my computer, an empty serving dish and a bothersome cat, in need of affection.

Around the corner in the front hallway stands our Christmas tree. It holds no ornaments, no lights or decorations at all. And we love it. With arrival of family at our house this weekend, we just ran out of time and heart for any serious attempt at decorating.

Lindsay, my wife, had only procured the tree last Tuesday night, as she noticed the Christmas tree lot packing up and closing for good. She bartered, offering the tree-lot workers a dessert in exchange for a tree, with some wreaths and garland thrown in.

They took the delicious bait; Lindsay, the greenery.

We are so proud of how straight the tree is in its tree stand, But we didn’t have the fortitude — so late in the season — to crawl on our knees underneath the first-floor steps to retrieve all those boxes of stuff to fancy it up.

So there it is. Nothing but a green, naked fir, lovely in its simplicity. The presents actually are sitting around two different artificial trees, with lights, that come up to my knees. We like them, too.

During most Christmases, I out-Scrooge Scrooge. It’s my cold, heartless nature. But this Christmas has been different for me, and I’m not sure why.

I’ve appreciated all the holiday lights I’ve seen this year, tacky and otherwise. I’ve read every Christmas card and Christmas letter about families I know.

The seasonal stories and evidence of people helping people have stuck with me more this year than most.

Saturday topped everything off for me. I accompanied Salisbury Police officers (and their families) as they delivered bicycles to 120 children in the city.

I wasn’t there for every delivery, of course, but it was great to be leaving a neighborhood and already see the children riding their new fancy bikes around the block.

Later in the day, photographer Wayne Hinshaw and I traveled to Concord for the homecoming of Army Spc. Tyler Jeffries, 23, who lost both of his legs to a well-hidden IED in Afghanistan.

I talked to some of Tyler’s family, who were joyous — joyous their soldier was alive and sharing Christmas with them. I felt water in my eyes when he stepped out of his car with metal legs and walked into the reception honoring him.

Saturday evening, I rang the Salvation Army bell outside the Harris-Teeter grocery store. A lot of angels earned their wings every time I rang that bell, but more angels — young and old — stuck money into the red bucket.

I kept having to push the money down with my pen to make sure there was more room.

Both of our sons and their “girls” also arrived at the house Saturday. As is tradition, the jigsaw puzzle is under way on the kitchen table. The counter is full of food. Christmas “craft” time is scheduled later, as is an outdoor fire.

The boys, who somehow have ended up playing for the championship in their fantasy football league, are yelling at the television and talking much trash to each other.

Sam, my oldest son, said something interesting to me Saturday. Did I remember, he asked, when Grandpa used to walk into the room on these kinds of days and say, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

And there it was, all the decoration I needed for our tree.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263,or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s Dragon Boat race returns after year hiatus

Local

Marker commemorating Jim Crow-era lynchings in Rowan County, racial injustice required years of work

Local

Identified Marine was a Salisbury native, served in WWII

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees COVID-19 cases coming more quickly, remains in middle tier for community spread

Cleveland

Cleveland plans to build walking trail, community barn quilt mural

High School

High school athletics: Male Athlete of the Year Walker in league of once-in-a-generation players

Business

Young entrepreneur learns lesson of responsibility by raising quail, selling eggs

Lifestyle

Historic McCanless House sold, buyers plan on converting home into events venue

Lifestyle

Library’s Summer Reading Week 10 has virtual storytime, last chance to log hours

Coronavirus

Positive COVID test knocks DeChambeau out of Olympics

College

College football: North grad Delaney ready for next challenges at Johnson C. Smith

College

Fishing: Carson grad Bauer signs with CVCC

Business

Biz Roundup: City of Salisbury brings back in-person community resource fair

Nation/World

States scale back virus reporting just as cases surge

Nation/World

Wildfires blasting through West draw states to lend support

Nation/World

French protesters reject virus passes, vaccine mandate

News

State briefs roundup

Crime

Salisbury man arrested for robbery in Cleveland

Crime

Blotter: South Carolina man arrested after attempting to purchase dog with stolen credit card

Local

Carolyn Hurley remembered as giving person

News

Stay-at-home orders cut into commercial fishermen’s catch last year

News

Two bodies found after helicopter goes down off NC coast

Nation/World

Unlikely partners: Pelosi, Cheney team up for Jan. 6 probe

Crime

Uber driver charged with sexually assaulting customer near Knightdale