A Dog Named Alice Cooper-Haines

Growing up in the seventies

A Christmas Tree Caper

A CHRISTMAS TREE CAPER

The other day I saw a car heading down the road with a Christmas tree tied to the roof. I had to
laugh, because it reminded me of a certain family Christmas when I was a little girl. My dad had
decided that he would take my two brothers and me out to select a real tree. Dad despised artificial
trees like those “space-age” aluminum ones. He loved the look and feel of a real tree, and he
wanted us to experience in his words, “an old-fashioned Christmas.”
Excitedly, we headed out in the crisp cold night in our small yet mighty Maverick, the first new car
my parents had owned. Once we arrived at the lot, we trampled around on the crunchy snow
inspecting each and every tree. The patient salesman would shake each one to show its freshness,
turning it this way and that so we could make sure there were no bare spots. Finally, we all agreed
on a tall, bright green Scotch pine. Dad tied the tree to the roof of our car, and it was big enough to
hang over the sides. Then homeward we went, singing a wonderful old song dad had taught us –
one we sang every year:

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do
If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God Bless You!

We were happily singing along until we drove up a hill, and the tree fell off the roof. Horrified, we
watched out the back window as our tree went rolling over and over. A little wind and momentum,
and a Christmas conifer can really fly! Down the hill it tumbled, coming to rest in a snowbank. Dad
backed up the car and put the tree back on the roof. The rest of the way home with our father
driving very slowly, we were as quiet as three little mice, hoping we would arrive home with the tree
in one piece.
The tree stayed put until we got there, but the fun wasn’t over yet. We all watched out the front
window as dad, a wonderful father but not mechanically inclined, wrestled with that poor tree, as if it
were an alligator, trying to cut off the trunk evenly so that it would fit into the stand.
First the tree would pop up, then dad’s head. When the alligator-tree went into a spin, I thought for
a moment the tree would win, but dad finally pinned it into submission.
Once we had the tree inside (and vertical), it looked a little sad, kind of like the one in “A Charlie
Brown Christmas.” However, once we decorated it with our hodgepodge of lights and ornaments,
and when dad had placed mom’s golden angel on top (an honor he had definitely earned), we all
stood back and declared it the most beautiful tree we had ever seen.
And, you know something? It truly was.

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