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Lucy Adams: Christmas miracle me not

Posted: December 27, 2015 - 12:08am

When we first saw it, its leg was stuck in the fence. It had abandoned the struggle to free itself some time ago, and so stood in place, resigned to its fate. “This is it,” I said. “This is the one.”

I stared it up and down. My husband stared at me. “You’re not serious?” he said.

“Of course I am. This one needs a home.”

“It’s an Arbor Day charity case.” He marched off in another direction, searching for the perfect tree: a tall, erect evergreen sporting dignity, lush branches and a triangular shape. “How about this one?” he asked, stopping next to a cedar that soared six feet above his head. He negotiated a vivisection of the arboreum, offering to take a portion of it and leaving the rest to regrow.

Before I uttered my rebuttal, he accepted that his plan would never work and moved on to another specimen. “This tree. This tree,” he repeated, and he swung his arm in a swooping motion to encompass all its possibilities. But this suggestion, this tree, was wide, as wide as the imaginary living room into which my beloved believed it would fit.

I shook my head no and pointed in the direction of the tree with its foot in the fence. My husband shook his head no and pointed in the direction of a vast wilderness he was willing to search for an alternative. “Your tree is too skinny to even fit in our tree stand. We’ve never had a Christmas tree that small.”

In the end, him being a man and me being in charge of Christmas, he acquiesced and pulled a set of fingernail clippers from his pocket. “Fine,” he said. Once he cut it down and wrenched it free of the fence, we saw that its leg was twisted at the ankle and mangled near the knee.

“It will look different once we get the lights and the ornaments on it,” I encouraged my husband and reassured myself. “The ornaments will coax it to spread its branches wider. The lights will fill the gaps in its interior. You’ll see.”

“That would be a Christmas miracle,” he retorted and lifted the twig with his pinky finger and tied it to the car with dental floss.

The children echoed their father’s skepticism as he slid the tree into the corner. It lunged left, swung its hips to the right and cocked its head sideways and back toward the wall, as if studying us with the same scrutiny with which we studied it. Wild fronds sprang forth in Seuss-icle form.

Though my husband rotated it at my command, it refused to put its best foot forward. It refused to bulge and bristle and fill the space or even its bare spots. It had struck its pose for its short season in our living room, immune to my demands and my husband’s coercion by cussing. We had dragged Hephaestus - thrown from Mt. Olympus by his own mother and tangled in a fence - into our home and leaned him in a corner to glare at us for the duration.

Since all of Christmas rests on my shoulders, the complaints piled on my back, too. My family expected a Christmas miracle and I delivered a disappointment. The lights, the ornaments, the holiday didn’t turn it from a creature that grew around its circumstances into one that never faced an obstacle. And that’s why I continue to voice its praises. It needs the real Christmas miracle – the miracle in the manger – just like me. That’s what makes it the perfect Christmas tree.

Lucy Adams is the author of If Mama Don’t Laugh, It Ain’t Funny and other books. She lives in Thomson. E-mail Lucy at lucyadams.writer@gmail.com.

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