NotXmastreeChristmas comes in many flavors. Priests rejoice because they’re preaching to a packed house…for the first time in six months. CEOs of retail store chains pray for customers, credit cards and a fourth quarter earnings report that beats analyst’s estimates. For the kids, Christmas means ripping open presents and watching Uncle Charley get soused in the easy chair.

None of that has anything to do with the deep spiritual message of the holiday. And that’s just the way we’re going to keep it. The Christmas I want to talk about is where parties, presents, and decorations are all that matters. In other words, consumer Christmas.

My Mother loved consumer Christmas. In fact, she just flat-out loved being a consumer. Going to bargain basement sales where she would elbow her way past other non-working moms to grab deals from the discount rack was nirvana. It was almost as good as smoking cigarettes. Almost.

Every Christmas Eve, Mom would throw a big party. Our little ranch house would be packed with friends and family. That party was a tradition, not just for us but all the guests. My mother loved being “the hostess with the mostess.”

Then I ruined it by growing up.

But hey, that’s what kids do. They go to college and move away from home. So Mom’s party got smaller…but not for long. I moved back, got married and became a Dad.

When my kids were little, Mom’s party was back on and Christmas was in high season. Each house on our family Christmas tour had a living room filled with presents, holly and, of course, a giant evergreen sparkling with lights and ornaments. It was a magical time.

Then my daughters ruined it by growing up.

Things have changed. My folks are gone and so is the big Christmas Eve party. Everybody’s too damn busy. And nobody even wants to bother wrapping presents. A bow on an Amazon box is good enough. Really? What’s become of Christmas at the Fink’s?

Not to worry. Our living room does have a Christmas tree. It’s not a fancy fake tree that actually looks good. It’s a cheater tree. It came in a flat box. It’s a spiral of wire wrapped with plastic evergreen needles and lights. It comes with a pole and a stand. All you have to do is grab the center of the spiral, pull it up and clip it to the top of the pole. Plug it in and you have instant Christmas. It isn’t so much a Christmas Tree as a Christmas Cone. My wife goes all out and drapes a long ribbon around it.

“That’s not a Christmas Tree!”

Okay, grumble all you want but it passes for a Christmas tree at our house. And I’m not alone in my admiration of this ultra convenient Christmas tree. Many Dads have asked me (quietly and out of earshot of their wives), “Where can I get one of those?”

To my knowledge, nobody makes them anymore. And no, you can’t have mine…at any price.

Tacky or not, this tree does something that the Douglas Fir you strapped to the top of your car can never do. It dances.

That’s right. Since it’s only attached at the very top, the tree has all the moves of a professional belly dancer. You only need one other thing to get it going…a house full of cats.

I can’t blame a cat for wanting to get under the tree. There’s plenty of room inside the Christmas cone and it’s warm and cozy. And if there’s only one cat under the tree you wouldn’t even notice. Unfortunately, we have three cats and two are brothers. When the two boys scoot under together, it isn’t long before an argument ensues. You can’t miss the signs.

The tree jiggles a little, then shimmies, then begins to roll. Shake those hips, baby. And finally, before you can make it across the room, it tips overs and hits the floor.

There’s a black and white blur as the boys exit the tree and head to higher ground to work out their differences.

The tree lights blink but don’t die. One of us sets the tree up again, and all is right with the world.

Until tomorrow, when the brothers return for another holly jolly cage match.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a cat fight!

The Dancing Christmas Tree
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3 thoughts on “The Dancing Christmas Tree

  • December 24, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    Dear Rich and Leanne, I just love that you are just a little “off plum”. What a great tale; and I can picture it all. Jay and I miss, miss, miss you both. Yet I know you two are happy as clams — having a new life. Thank you for the life you restored in my body over and over again. I have been on a journey of my own. A dog we have been keeping was racing around the yard on Labor Day weekend and she can become a bullet. Well this weapon swept behind me and crashed into me as she went by, resulting in surgery on Sept. 23rd for a fractured tibial plateau – a 6″ plate and 6 screws included. I was allowed only toe-touch, non-weight-bearing for 8 weeks. I am learning how to rewalk and to use this limb again. The doc and the great PT says “I’ll be good as new” and I AM BELIEVING JUST THAT. He said from the beginning that I would be able to ride again, so all is well. I am thankful for so much this Christmas and most of all for Jay who has held it all together – hasn’t always been pretty. Thought I might starve much of the time but we are looking forward to really outstanding new year, there will be but a few horses and we will be moved to a small but lovely farmette and we will have a life once again like y’all other than just horses. Much love to you both. Keep those fingers moving on the computer and mind well oiled. DuBose Fleming

    • December 27, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      DuBose, I hope you two had a Merry Christmas. Boy, the last three months have been so tough on you. I’m glad that you’ll be “as good as new” and back on a horse again next year. Thank you for your kind words about my writing. Now that the Christmas rush is over, it’s time for me to get the keyboard clacking again. A few giggles helps good folks like you get through the day and heal a little faster. Have a happy (and most of all) safe New Year. My best to Jay. He is a marvel.


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