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Lynna Clark: It Was Perfect

Or, The Tree of Christmas Past.

It was love at first sight. I knew because my heart did that little thing where it leaped strangely before settling back into place. At my age one does not ignore such flutter. My husband picked up on the coveting when he glanced at my flushed face. “Do we need to go back and look at it?”

I paused and said no. I didn’t plan to get festive anytime soon. Besides… the tree we found at Big Lots for ten bucks about a hundred years ago worked fine. We approached the register with our wheel barrow. That should give you an indication as to how early it was in the Christmas season. However I continued to look backward, much like Lot’s wife longing for something behind.

My wise husband advised, “You realize we’re in Magic Mart. If you like it we’d better get it now. It won’t be here when we come back.”

I sighed at the thoughts of actually purchasing such a grand and glorious tree. He parked the wheel barrow near the register and took my hand. Unlike Lot he led me back to the land of extravagance. There before us stood a tall and stately artificial tree that looked so real I fully expected forest animals to scamper happily out to greet us. Instead a young man in a blue vest stepped from within its massive branches and plugged up the lights.

Angels sang… Or perhaps it was Brenda Lee. I couldn’t be certain. But we were all suddenly rockin’ around the Christmas tree. There were little pine cones tucked sweetly into the limbs. Long pine needles gave it a soft billowy look. Tiny lights were already worked into the branches. No longer would our holiday festivities include swearing while untangling last year’s illuminations.

And it was massive! The 1920s craftsman style house that we lived in yearned for such a stately tree. The magnificent perfectly shaped pine would barely use one corner of our huge den. I yearned for it.

We purchased it and I did love it dearly for approximately three years. Then we moved from the home with the ginormous den. Since it was June when we moved, the stately tree was boxed and stacked in a building out back with many other treasures. That first Christmas in our cozy new digs [that’s code for teeny tiny] David dragged the tree, box and all from the building out back into the house. Sweat poured from his brow as he commented sweetly, “Feels like I’m dragging a body.”

I wondered how he knew.

We set up the tree in the dining room only to realize there was no longer a place to dine… or sit or stand or walk. I sighed that sigh that a woman sighs when she doesn’t like what her husband has done though it is exactly what she has asked him to do.

David sighed too. There wasn’t even room to sweat. He took it apart and hauled it to the porch. It pushed two platform rockers out of the way with its giant pretend branches. Forest animals giggled from deep within the massive hunk of Christmas delight. Tiny pine cones laughed and said, “How do ya like us now?” No one felt much like rockin’ around it. Besides… our rockers bowed shamefully face down in the yard.

We held festivities like that for about another seven years. Finally last Christmas either a very strong wind or a gang of angry squirrels wreaked havoc on our beautiful tree. The lights no longer lit, the branches fell all willy-nilly and did not reach out beckoning all to enjoy Christmas. Instead they dropped low in symbolic surrender.

“There shall be no rockin’!” They mocked us each time we tried to edge our way into the house. So once again David did the man job, only this time he hauled it to the curb. Again he commented on it being similar to dragging a body. Again I wondered if it seemed like a practice run for the day when I finally sigh one too many times.

I was glad when a lady in a mini-van screeched to a halt. The look in her eyes was familiar and I hoped she would not turn into a pillar of salt. She was wise and dared not leave expecting it to be there if she came back later. Her arms were strong and I delighted to see her hoist it into the back of her sensible vehicle. As it stretched forward pushing lunch boxes and toddlers out of the way she skipped happily around to the driver’s side. With piney branches rearranging her hair she smiled knowingly as she drove away.

It was perfect!

As I recall that scene from my rocking chair which rests contentedly on the porch, I have to wonder.

Where did I stash that little tiny tree from Big Lots?

Lynna Clark lives and writes in Salisbury.

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