There was the White Christmas Christmas of 2009. Fresh snow fell down on Kansas City. It was Kate’s first Christmas.
There was the Christmas of 2014. Emma informed us on Christmas Eve that she asked for an American Girl doll from Santa. Santa traveled through the slums of Wichita, Kansas to purchase an American Girl doll from the basement of a nice lady with a Craigslist account and buried cocaine in her couch.
And there was the Christmas with the giant tree of 2016.
There wasn’t supposed to be a tree this year. Real trees are messy. A real tree comes with a list of chores: lighting the tree, decorating the tree, watering the tree, vacuuming pine needles, and bopping the dogs away with an empty wrapping paper roll.
There wasn’t supposed to be a tree this year because trees cost money. The money spent on a tree could go towards something else – like a bowl of Ramen Noodles for dinner.
Scott lost his job in August.
Emma asked if Santa’s bag would be lighter this year. That’s when I knew she knew. This Christmas is different.
I’m not writing to pull on your heartstrings.
I’m writing about the Christmas with the giant tree.
Scott went on an unsupervised, an un-wifed, Christmas tree shopping trip. Scott insisted we have a Christmas with a Christmas tree. Instead of buying a small tree, Clark Griswold bought a 14-foot one.
The tree needed to thaw out before we could decorate it. As the tree warmed up, the branches expanded. It became a giant monster in the room. It towers well past our reach to the untouched corners of a ceiling full of cobwebs.
I went to bed with Clark that night.
I told him how we’re going to blow a fuse on the block with the amount of lights needed for the tree. And we don’t need candles anymore because our house smells like a brand new pine car freshener. I asked him if we should invite the mayor to help turn the lights on because that would be funny. I wondered if Clark considered there might be a squirrel in the giant tree. A tree that size is prime real estate for squeaking animals.
Clark ignored my jokes as his hands got stuck to a People magazine. We turned the light off and went to bed.
4:00 AM. **CRASH**
“Scott! Scott, wake up!”
“I heard something. It sounded like something fell upstairs. It’s loud.”
“I don’t hear anything.”
“But what if someone is breaking in? Are the kids ok?”
“Scott? Scott! Clark!?”
We fell back asleep.
“MOMMY! THE TREE FELL!”
Aunt Bethany’s cat knocked down the giant tree.
Clark grabbed a chainsaw, fixed the newel post, and uprighted the tree. Clark Sr. came over with sand bags. I offered to help steady the tree but the tips of my fingers could barely touch the trunk, even with my arm fully extended.
The tree, in all of its 14 feet of thawed out glory, was ready to make a couple kids smile.
The Christmas with the giant tree. There’s a little bit of merry in a tree of this size, even if it has multicolored lights. Damnit, Clark. Twinkle lights should be white.