By Hardy Jackson
You will note that after Thanksgiving I write a lot about Christmas. You didn’t notice?
Well, I do. I love the season. I watch Christmas movies instead of basketball. OK, I’ll watch “Pawn Stars” before basketball. My favorite Christmas movie is “The Lion in Winter.”
Some say it isn’t a Christmas movie. They also say it isn’t a comedy. They are wrong. I also go about humming Christmas songs. I have a better attitude toward my fellow man – somewhat. And I love the decorations. Boxes are brought out of storage for the decking of the halls.
But most of all, I love the annual Christmas tree fight.
Every year since unto us a child was born, the week after Thanksgiving our family piled into the car and drove to a local Christmas tree farm where we wandered through the stands of trimmed and tucked pines and cedars and firs to pick out the perfect one.
And it has been our tradition ever since the child born unto us was old enough to express an opinion, that the child and his mother would disagree over which tree to select. My role in all of this was to wander with them from tree to tree while they debated merits I could not comprehend until either a compromise was grudgingly reached or Mama pulled rank and decided the issue. Then our daughter was born, and when she matured into what my Mother called her “renegagery,” the annual argument triangulated, for she, like her brother, had opinions that ran counter to everyone else’s – especially his. I continued to watch from the sidelines. I had no dog in this fight.
When asked which tree I thought was best, I craftily avoided taking sides, only to learn that “who gives a rat’s rear” did little more than convince the combatants that somehow the true meaning of Christmas had eluded me.
Once I tried to defuse the situation by pointing out that it really made no difference which tree we picked. When we piled on the ornaments and tinsel, stars and lights, glitz and glitter you could hardly tell that there was a tree at all. My reward for imposing reason on an irrational situation was to be ignored, which was what I wanted in the first place.
So it came to pass that every year we entered the season of Advent singing of the coming of Emmanuel, preparing our hearts and minds for the celebration of the birth of our Savior, and girding our loins for the annual Christmas tree fight. This year the conditions seemed perfect.
Son and daughter, a college student and a college graduate, were home. Mother had found a “farm” that had the sort of tree she wanted. I was ready to go along for the ride.
However, as off we went, I began to notice a difference in the way my off- springs approached the task.
Instead of bickering, there seem to be a sense of purpose, common cause, driving them. I was immediately on my guard.
We arrived at the “farm,” and were given a saw and told where to go. We drove to the spot. And there, standing proud, was “The Tree.” Right height, right shape, straight trunk, and a peak perfect for the star. Who could ask for more? Mama could, that’s who.
As our children declared that it was “the one,” my wife realized that the babes she carried for nine months, the babes she nurtured, rocked, and read to, babes she instructed by example how they should act as members of the family, were about to forego the annual Christmas tree fight. For my Lovely, it was a blow upon a bruise.
Frantically she wandered among the remaining trees asking “what about this one”? “Or this one?” Her kids would have none of it. I tried to comfort my helpmate, tried to praise her for raising children unbound by ancient traditions, but to no avail. She would not be comforted. There was no balm in Gilead. The boy took the saw, cut it down, and a short time later, with the tree lashed to the top of the car, we were heading home.
Hiding the hurt as best she could, the mother of my children began talking about decking the halls, and wondering where among the decking we should place the tree.
Things seemed to be returning to normal, or what passes for normal in the Jackson home.
Later that evening, when the children were out of the room, we had a moment to reflect on what had taken place. “Do you think the two of them conspired against you,” I asked the lady of the house. “Of course they did,” she replied. “They wanted to get it done and go home.” And that is what they did.
FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA.
Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Eminent Scholar in History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at email@example.com.