My last real Christmas tree was thirty years ago.  I was a poor young broadcaster sharing an apartment with two friends from work.

The tree had grown with a twist in the middle and the top was in a crooked direction and there was a large gap between branches in the middle.  Still, it was a tree.

At Thanksgiving, I borrowed my dad’s bucksaw and walked up the hill and took down a tree I had seen a couple of years before.  A lot had changed over a couple of years.  The tree had grown with a twist in the middle and the top was in a crooked direction and there was a large gap between branches in the middle.  Still, it was a tree.  When I left for home Sunday night, I strapped it to my old Buick LeSabre.  It stayed there for the 135 mile drive and despite snow and wind.  My friends didn’t complain about the looks.  We decorated it and strung lights and we were happy.  When I moved in spring, I skipped trees for many years following.  Usually, I went back home for Christmas and a tree reminded me of the distance between my loved ones and myself.

Eventually, I married and became a dad and my sister would sometimes visit for Christmas.  She has asthma.  Pine scents choked off her breathing.  For Christmas 1997, I shelled out 59 dollars and some change at Walmart.  I brought home an artificial tree.  My little girl would volunteer to help with decorating but instead would take the little Laplanders I had for ornaments and play with them and her dolls.  One year, she saw an angel at a dollar store and it topped the spindly artificial tree for many years until the angel lost a wing and I invested in a stronger angel.

Then, there were the years after she was grown and I moved 375 miles away for a new job.  For five years, the tree stayed in a box as I fled for home every Christmas.  Then, I met a young lady and she took my old tree from the box and stood it up in a corner.  A year later we bought new trees and placed them throughout the house.  The Walmart tree with so many memories went to a second hand store.  It was dropping even more needles than Charlie Brown’s tree.  Twenty three months ago, I came to Idaho with no tree and didn’t bother with one last year.  I could look at them at work and City Park.  This year, I plan to put up a tree on my own and for my own self.  Real or plastic.  I’m thinking real because I’ve inherited a big, hulking cat and he plays with everything.  Real trees are heavier and if he climbs it shouldn’t be easy to tip over.  Last week I solved an old mystery.  Periodically I was finding a large kitchen drawer open.


Courtesy, Bill Colley.

Friends surmised tremors or ghosts.  Then one day, I heard the drawer move and walked into the kitchen to find Tucker curled up inside.  It reminds me of the day he climbed into my Igloo cooler.  It tipped over and closed and it took me ten minutes to find where the meowing was coming from.  This gives me pause with trees but I like the look on cold winter nights.  I like the memories it brings.  My parents and brother are long gone and, yet.  I still remember Christmases decades old and an intact family.  Late at night, looking at the lights and garland, I can hear the laughter across the years.