I have always been fascinated with trees. The older I become the more I hate to see one cut. For some reason, this extends even to Christmas trees.
Christmas trees must come down…and every family has their unique time and tradition for the annual “falling” of the tree—sometimes they are boxed and others towed to the street for the next garbage truck. Personally, I prefer a live tree that has the chance to live to see another Christmas. Regardless, I get melancholy when the time inevitably arrives. This year the “falling” of a tree caught me unaware.
Some of our dearest friends, Mary and Martha (the names have been changed), asked me to stop by their home on December 30th to assist them with a tech issue; Mary wanted me to integrate her Yahoo and G-mail accounts into a mac mail account I was commissioned to establish. I figured it would be a piece of cake until I discovered that Mary had 9,995 e-mail messages on the Yahoo account alone. So, I began the tedious process of entering the data needed for the new account, knowing it would take hours for the thousands of messages to move through cyberspace.
The small zoo administered by Martha and Mary distracted me. Their two parrots kept repeating the questions I asked Mary. I ask, “What is your password for the Yahoo account? The parrot—“What is your password?” “Good morning…Mary!” Since the parrots learned to talk from Mary, I have a hard time distinguishing the birds from my friend.
Then, all of a sudden their Great Dane (I call him Giraffe) and their chubby snorting Bulldog (I call him Bulldozer) decide to play a game of chase around the table where I am struggling to concentrate. There is barely enough room for the youngsters to pass between my chair and the Christmas tree that has been artistically decorated. Mary will host her family later in the day for their family Christmas. As the dogs bark and take their laps, Martha urges Mary, “Get those dogs caged so Bob can work.
“They will quit in a few more laps. Just let them play.”
I am thinking, “Unbelievable! Give me grandchildren any day.”
The next few moments are a blur and I can only surmise what happened. Giraffe was hot on the tail of Bulldozer. Their laps are precise. Suddenly, Giraffe bites Bulldozer in the butt and Bulldozer exits the usual route to seek refuge under the Christmas tree. It is a tight fit, but he disappears. Giraffe continues the intended route until his lethargic brain captures the reality that his prey isn’t in sight. So the Great Dane makes a quick 180-degree turn and rushes to find his friend. He spots the pup and leaps full speed into the side of the tree in hopes of landing on top of the bulldog. Chaos ensues and the tree careens off the plate glass window and falls on me, wedging me between the table and the tree. The women come quickly to the rescue and miraculously the majority of the bulbs have remained in place and unbroken. They show no concern about the “techy.”
A divided opinion between my hosts ensues. Martha says, “The tree might as well come down.” Mary insists, “No, don’t you remember my family is coming for Christmas tonight?” Mary fights few battles, but usually wins when the stakes are high. So, Martha and I take our places on our bellies on opposite sides of the tree trying to loosen the screws of the tree stand. Strangely, the dogs have disappeared into some distant retreat. The convergence of beast and tree has bent the screws of the stand and the base of the tree. Mary insists that we try another stand that it takes her ten minutes to find, God knows where. She returns with a tree stand that must have been designed by the Norwegians before the Mayflower’s first journey. It is nothing more than a concave tub with four ropes attached to the four sides of the tub. Those ropes have leather straps intended for strategic attachment to the trunk of the tree. I can only laugh uncontrollably when I try to figure how to make such an attachment on a fully decorated tree. Martha and I veto plan B, and Mary looks scornful and disappointed as her mind whirls for another solution to save the tree.
“Hold on…I will get some wire and pliers and we can steady the tree with guidelines to the closest walls or curtain rods.” Mary proposes.
“No way!” Martha screams. “You will pull down the curtains and then we will have a mess.” Again, Mary prevails. Ten minutes later we have the tree balanced precariously on an unstable foundation.
I return to the table and find their cat is standing on the keyboard of my computer. It is the first time I have seen the devious creature in nearly six months, but her brief visit was definitely with an evil intention. As I brush her off the table and look at my screen, the vicious feline has somehow done the “hooky-pokey” or deep knee bends on my keyboard and totally deleted all the account information I had previously entered.
I am ticked…I know, but don’t voice; this would never have happened had they bought a LIVE tree. I re-enter the necessary data, start the transfers, and dismiss myself to find my family nurse and a valium.