The Little Professor was on my case to decorate the Christmas tree, and I knew he wouldn't let up until the tree was up. That kid has the memory of an elephant. I also had to bake cookies; apparently, he considers that part of the tree-decorating ritual. Just watch, next year, it'll be banana splits.
We watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" while we decorated. Is that one of the most depressing Christmas movies ever? Poor Charlie Brown; the Peanuts kids are relentlessly mean to him. The Sainted Child was very concerned about this.
"Why are they bullying Charlie Brown?" We were watching the Peanuts kids telling Good Ol' Charlie Brown his tree sucked, his play sucked, and, in addition, he really sucked, causing him to flee to escape the torment. "He only wanted to have a live Christmas tree."
"The only good part is when Linus quotes scripture," I told her. "That's my favorite part."
"What about when they decorate the tree for him?" she asked.
"That part just makes me mad. I put a ton of lights on our tree every year, and it never fills out like that. It just looks like a bunch of green pipe cleaners with Christmas lights hanging off them."
"You always want to put too many lights on it," the Long Suffering Husband observed. "You're going to blow a fuse. You can only have three strands this year."
"All of the lights go on the tree! All of them!"
"Only three of them work."
"I suspect you are lying."
"Our tree is nice!" the Little Professor protested.
"Our tree has macaroni, paper mache and construction paper hanging on it."
"Don't forget the Happy Meal toys," the LSH offered.
"Can't forget the Happy Meal toys. Remember the year Sainted Child made a gingerbread man, and it mouldered between Christmases, even though I put it in a plastic baggie?"
"You're meaner than the Charlie Brown kids," the Professor lectured. "Me and Sister made those ornaments. Our tree is nice."
"Our tree isn't going to become beautiful through the transformative power of love," I said. "This isn't a cartoon."
"It really won't if you don't stop cursing at the angel," the LSH said.
"It goes on crookedy." It looks like it got its drink on before perching on the top of the tree, because it insists on tilting to one side or the other. It's aggravating.
"It's not so bad," the Sainted Child said. "All the bulbs and lights are pretty. Oh, look, here's the little Dutch girl ornament Great-Grandma got you - remember when Daddy snapped the arms off?"
"I didn't snap the arms off," the LSH sighed. "I tried gluing them back on after they fell off in the box. It just didn't take."
The girl had a ribbon noose around her neck from which to hang her on the tree branch. She once had a hook, but, like her arms, it had been lost over the years. I couldn't throw it away, because Grandma Maudine gave it to me.
"And here's another one from Great-Grandma Rachel. And here's my baby ornament." She continued digging in the box. "And here's one from you and Daddy's first Christmas."
I'm not going to tell you the year listed on that ornament. It was an alarmingly long time ago.
She continued digging out ornaments - Jack Skellington, disguised as a snowman, and Alice and the Mad Hatter having tea, gifts to the children that were destined to some day adorn their own trees; ornaments celebrating births and a wedding; handmade ornaments with pictures of my children as babies and toddlers; ornaments that had once hung on my grandparents' and parents' trees and had been passed down to help fill out my tree when I moved into my first apartment; some stalwart old soldiers I had bought for my "first" Christmas tree and had survived years of small children and animals and a major move.
One-by-one, they went on the tree, until our entire family history was on display. The LSH plugged in the lights, and between the lights and the reflected glow off the bulbs and glass, it didn't look too bad.
"See, it just needed a little love," Sainted Child said.
"Can it, Linus."
(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)