The Suitcase Lady


December 24, 2007, 3:40 pm

I was a lucky child. My parents always had a fight right before Christmas. Since this was the only fight they would have all year, I considered myself blessed.

The annual Christmas fight always was triggered by the same object, the Christmas tree.

We would go to the local tree lot where my frugal parents would hastily choose a tree from the bargain corner. “We only have it up for a week,” they rationalized.

During the short drive home, the tree would deposit half its needles in the trunk of the car.

On Christmas Eve day, my father and the tree would retreat to the basement. Muffled curses and a lot of banging would filter upstairs. Then my grim-faced father would lug the Charlie Brown tree upstairs and unceremoniously deposit it in the living room.

My equally grim-faced mother would try to make the best of the situation… for about three minutes. “It’s listing very, very badly to the left,” she would say.

I won’t print what my dad said. He and the tree would bang downstairs back to the basement.

When the tree made its second coming, my mother would string on the beautiful, pastel, wartime neon snowball lights. Thank goodness they did not work in series; one or two burned out every year, but we always had the rest. She finished the tree with exactly 3 dozen ornaments. Our tree never had tinsel. My mother considered tinsel to be tacky.

I will never have to worry about getting caught up in the glut of Christmas excess. My parents trained me well.

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