Freed Christmas Tree: My Traditional Heart-Warming Christmas Story

I first posted this story last Christmas season . Like all good stories (or not), I decided to make it an annual tradition – at least this year (mostly because I’ve been too busy lazy caught up in the awe of the season). This is one that deserves a hot cup of cocoa while reading it by the fire.


 

I need to begin this story with a very important disclaimer. By the time you get to the end, I can’t imagine that there could possibly be a dry eye among you. Consider yourself fairly warned.

I was driving down the road the other day with a couple of family members in tow. I’d give you their names, but it’s not easy to recall who always does or does not decide to go along with me on excursions I can’t clearly remember. Besides, you’d probably want to corroborate the details of this story with them – if you knew who they were – and, er, they probably wouldn’t want to be bothered with such disturbing distractions. Just take my word that this is how it all went down…

Early on in this outing, I realized that swerving to miss a large object in the upcoming lane was going to be called for. It was a green, bushy, triangular-shaped something or other that we managed to just barely miss while traveling 65 miles per hour down the Interstate. I couldn’t help but frown as my mind registered what sort of bundled-branched package would meet these specifications at this time of year. Sadly, it appeared as though someone had lost a Christmas tree. (No, I do not have a picture of this particular event, as I was driving 65 miles per hour up – I mean down – the Interstate and had to quickly swerve to avoid impact with this misplaced seasonal symbol. I’m going to have to ask you to help me out here, even if you weren’t prepared to be participative this early in the story.You’ll have to use your imagination on this one. Tis the season for that, you know. Ho ho ho.)

But I personally wasn’t feeling ‘ho, ho, ho’ over this incident. I was feeling ‘no, no, no’…this can’t be. What a terrible thing for some family (couple, crazy cat lady, whoever) to have traveled up the Interstate to have so lovingly picked out the perfect holiday tree (so they could curse stepping on old, hidden, sap-stuck pine needles that would painfully sink into the base of their toes by Easter) and to be on the way to take that new puppy home and unwrap it – so they could proudly re-wrap it in hazardous lights and decorations to the point that any Fire Marshall would blatantly and openly cringe – only to find it had escaped from the top of their vehicle somewhere between stopping to engorge their bodies with a dozen snow-capped Krispy Kreme donuts and home. I tried to imagine how I could help.

Perhaps I could…

turn around at the next exit, backtrack north on the Interstate, turn around again at the exit coming back in this southward direction,

stop my car in the middle of the Interstate with no worries of trucks that looked like they could turn into Decepticons barreling down the muffler of my little car that sips gas through a coffee straw,

strap that cumbersome tree onto the hood of my cargo-challenged car without the benefit of any twine (perhaps my un-remembered family members would hold it across their laps in the back seat and out both sides of the windows?),

and get it home so I could post it on a Lost and Found site until someone filed a Missing Christmas Tree report.

The site of the reunion would be tear-jerking. (Okay, my imagination gets a little outside of its own limits sometimes.)

About the time I was ready to convince myself that I could have this story all wrong – that maybe these people were driving through with their Christmas tree from the east coast and heading back to Colorado, where they’d be too tickled and too hungry with themselves to notice they were even missing the tree, I had to swerve to miss clipping another one…then another one. The next three were dotted, back and forth, on the opposite shoulders of the road. It was beginning to appear more like the driver of a Christmas tree delivery truck who was from Colorado – happily buzzing down the Interstate without a care in the world about flying Christmas trees in his rear view mirror.

This led me to a string of other theories (not to be mistaken with THE String Theory, of course, though that, too, could have been a possibility).

Some of my more plausible theories included:

  1. Santa had gotten into the eggnog and rum cake early this year while thinking of the needs of the poverty-stricken who might otherwise be treeless. Of course, Santa doesn’t prescribe to the notion of welfare without work, as evidenced by his Northern elven sweat factory. Rather than allow these poor families to feel as if they were recipients of charity, in which they might feel looked down upon, Santa decided he’d create a challenge for them to claim these free Christmas trees. If they could dodge the oncoming traffic, heck, that was proof enough that they’d earned ’em – fair and square.
  2. This was the work of a disgruntled member of the Elf Manufacturing Union (EMU – not to be mistaken with those freakishly frighteningly large birds, who are much more freakish than gigantic 20-point reindeer who fly and stomp across roofs; or with Eastern Michigan University, which is very close to the North Pole, from my southern state perspective). I’m guessing this elf was clearly upset because he was expected to labor during the holiday season. He was making his way south to apply for a job at Walmart. He’d laid out a trail of Christmas trees, so that he might find his rebellious little way back home if things didn’t work out any better for him at Walmart.
  3. Colorado driver buzzing down the road with his package of holiday brownies – oh yeah, I forgot. We’ve already covered that one.
  4. Perhaps a boyscout, who had been working on his Christmas Tree Ranch Handling merit badge, suddenly felt convicted over holding all those poor Christmas trees for ransom. Fed by the holiday spirit (and the 2 dozen cookies one of the moms had dropped off that he’d scarfed down in the last 5 minutes), he might have experienced a rush of compassion (okay, maybe it was just sugar) that caused him to throw open the corral gate and yell, “Run for your lives!” while barely escaping with his own before the stampede began. Some of the strays had apparently made their way out onto the freeway. It’s possible that this incident will lead to the discontinuation of the Christmas Tree Ranch Handling merit badge.

In any case, by the time I came back onto the scene from wrapping up my errands, I noticed that the southbound lane had been freed of all the Christmas trees. Just as I was about to wonder where they’d all gone…

When what to my wondering eyes should appear?
Why! An F150 truck, its bumper hanging off its rear!

I noticed one of the concerned Citizenry for the Over-Forestation of Freeways (OFF) promptly dealing with the issue. (Incidentally, I’ve heard rumor that this group actually wanted to be the Federation for the Over-Forestation of Freeways, but when their president made application, it was denied because – for some strange reason – the court clerk took it as a personal offense that he wanted her to sign approval to F-OFF. More unfortunately, there is an insect repellent company who is rumored to have filed a lawsuit for use of its registered trademark name.) Nevertheless, this particular concerned citizen was not going to let that pesky little aggravation stop him from performing his self-assigned civic duty.

Upon spotting the poor, frightened tree from over the tipped-up end of his nearly emptied quart of beer, this in-the-seasonal-spirited gentleman yanked up on his emergency brake and selflessly turned a 360 in the middle of the freeway. He had to thereafter signal with his most visible finger for the trucker – who was leaning out the window while jake-braking and laying on his horn, urging this upstanding citizen as to how he might best go about his business – to go on around him and responsibly get back to his own. As Mr. Civic Duty got around to the rear of his F-150 truck with its holiday-tinted primer/rust mix, he joyfully threw his arms around that lonely, abandoned Christmas tree and adopted it quicker than if it had been his long, lost cousin, Earl, who’d just won the Powerball. He then tossed that tree into the bed of his pick-up, trading it out for about a 12-pack of empty beer cans that bounced off the tail gate and down the freeway behind him. I couldn’t help but think what a considerate and generous person he must be to want to leave those cans for someone to pick up later and exchange for the high rate offered in aluminum trade.

As if he hadn’t already exhibited an over-abundance of holiday spirit and generosity, I truly came to understand the meaning of Christmas in my final glimpse of this remarkable citizen in his over-exuberant heroic act.

Found at: http://gallery.markheadrick.com/humorous/christmas-tree-with-beer-can-ornaments/“Yeehaw!” he belched, as he floored it out of sight.
“I got this durned Christmas tree for freed – without a bar fight!”

I ask you, where else could I have witnessed such a spectacularly heart-tugging story during this special holiday season?

So, now I must say…

Merry Christmas to y’all! And to all a good night!

Ah, crud. That was a copyright issue, wasn’t it?

(Nope, nope. It has ya’ll. I believe I’m good on this one.)

***

 

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Freed Christmas Tree: A Heart-Warming Christmas Story

I need to begin this story with a very important disclaimer. By the time you get to the end, I can’t imagine that there could possibly be a dry eye among you. Consider yourself fairly warned.

I was driving down the road the other day with a couple of family members in tow. I’d give you their names, but it’s not easy to recall who always does or does not decide to go along with me on excursions I can’t clearly remember. Besides, you’d probably want to corroborate the details of this story with them – if you knew who they were – and, er, they probably wouldn’t want to be bothered with such disturbing distractions. Just take my word that this is how it all went down…

Early on in this outing, I realized that swerving to miss a large object in the upcoming lane was going to be called for. It was a green, bushy, triangular-shaped something or other that we managed to just barely miss while traveling 65 miles per hour down the Interstate. I couldn’t help but frown as my mind registered what sort of bundled-branched package would meet these specifications at this time of year. Sadly, it appeared as though someone had lost a Christmas tree. (No, I do not have a picture of this particular event, as I was driving 65 miles per hour up – I mean down – the Interstate and had to quickly swerve to avoid impact with this misplaced seasonal symbol. I’m going to have to ask you to help me out here, even if you weren’t prepared to be participative this early in the story.You’ll have to use your imagination on this one. Tis the season for that, you know. Ho ho ho.)

But I personally wasn’t feeling ‘ho, ho, ho’ over this incident. I was feeling ‘no, no, no’…this can’t be. What a terrible thing for some family (couple, crazy cat lady, whoever) to have traveled up the Interstate to have so lovingly picked out the perfect holiday tree (so they could curse stepping on old, hidden, sap-stuck pine needles that would painfully sink into the base of their toes by Easter) and to be on the way to take that new puppy home and unwrap it – so they could proudly re-wrap it in hazardous lights and decorations to the point that any Fire Marshall would blatantly and openly cringe – only to find it had escaped from the top of their vehicle somewhere between stopping to engorge their bodies with a dozen snow-capped Krispy Kreme donuts and home. I tried to imagine how I could help.

Perhaps I could…

turn around at the next exit, backtrack north on the Interstate, turn around again at the exit coming back in this southward direction,

stop my car in the middle of the Interstate with no worries of trucks that looked like they could turn into Decepticons barreling down the muffler of my little car that sips gas through a coffee straw,

strap that cumbersome tree onto the hood of my cargo-challenged car without the benefit of any twine (perhaps my un-remembered family members would hold it across their laps in the back seat and out both sides of the windows?),

and get it home so I could post it on a Lost and Found site until someone filed a Missing Christmas Tree report.

The site of the reunion would be tear-jerking. (Okay, my imagination gets a little outside of its own limits sometimes.)

About the time I was ready to convince myself that I could have this story all wrong – that maybe these people were driving through with their Christmas tree from the east coast and heading back to Colorado, where they’d be too tickled and too hungry with themselves to notice they were even missing the tree, I had to swerve to miss clipping another one…then another one. The next three were dotted, back and forth, on the opposite shoulders of the road. It was beginning to appear more like the driver of a Christmas tree delivery truck who was from Colorado – happily buzzing down the Interstate without a care in the world about flying Christmas trees in his rear view mirror.

This led me to a string of other theories (not to be mistaken with THE String Theory, of course, though that, too, could have been a possibility).

Some of my more plausible theories included:

  1. Santa had gotten into the eggnog and rum cake early this year while thinking of the needs of the poverty-stricken who might otherwise be treeless. Of course, Santa doesn’t prescribe to the notion of welfare without work, as evidenced by his Northern elven sweat factory. Rather than allow these poor families to feel as if they were recipients of charity, in which they might feel looked down upon, Santa decided he’d create a challenge for them to claim these free Christmas trees. If they could dodge the oncoming traffic, heck, that was proof enough that they’d earned ’em – fair and square.
  2. This was the work of a disgruntled member of the Elf Manufacturing Union (EMU – not to be mistaken with those freakishly frighteningly large birds, who are much more freakish than gigantic 20-point reindeer who fly and stomp across roofs; or with Eastern Michigan University, which is very close to the North Pole, from my southern state perspective). I’m guessing this elf was clearly upset because he was expected to labor during the holiday season. He was making his way south to apply for a job at Walmart. He’d laid out a trail of Christmas trees, so that he might find his rebellious little way back home if things didn’t work out any better for him at Walmart.
  3. Colorado driver buzzing down the road with his package of holiday brownies – oh yeah, I forgot. We’ve already covered that one.
  4. Perhaps a boyscout, who had been working on his Christmas Tree Ranch Handling merit badge, suddenly felt convicted over holding all those poor Christmas trees for ransom. Fed by the holiday spirit (and the 2 dozen cookies one of the moms had dropped off that he’d scarfed down in the last 5 minutes), he might have experienced a rush of compassion (okay, maybe it was just sugar) that caused him to throw open the corral gate and yell, “Run for your lives!” while barely escaping with his own before the stampede began. Some of the strays had apparently made their way out onto the freeway. It’s possible that this incident will lead to the discontinuation of the Christmas Tree Ranch Handling merit badge.

In any case, by the time I came back onto the scene from wrapping up my errands, I noticed that the southbound lane had been freed of all the Christmas trees. Just as I was about to wonder where they’d all gone…

When what to my wondering eyes should appear?
Why! An F150 truck, its bumper hanging off its rear!

I noticed one of the concerned Citizenry for the Over-Forestation of Freeways (OFF) promptly dealing with the issue. (Incidentally, I’ve heard rumor that this group actually wanted to be the Federation for the Over-Forestation of Freeways, but when their president made application, it was denied because – for some strange reason – the court clerk took it as a personal offense that he wanted her to sign approval to F-OFF. More unfortunately, there is an insect repellent company who is rumored to have filed a lawsuit for use of its registered trademark name.) Nevertheless, this particular concerned citizen was not going to let that pesky little aggravation stop him from performing his self-assigned civic duty.

Upon spotting the poor, frightened tree from over the tipped-up end of his nearly emptied quart of beer, this in-the-seasonal-spirited gentleman yanked up on his emergency brake and selflessly turned a 360 in the middle of the freeway. He had to thereafter signal with his most visible finger for the trucker – who was leaning out the window while jake-braking and laying on his horn, urging this upstanding citizen as to how he might best go about his business – to go on around him and responsibly get back to his own. As Mr. Civic Duty got around to the rear of his F-150 truck with its holiday-tinted primer/rust mix, he joyfully threw his arms around that lonely, abandoned Christmas tree and adopted it quicker than if it had been his long, lost cousin, Earl, who’d just won the Powerball. He then tossed that tree into the bed of his pick-up, trading it out for about a 12-pack of empty beer cans that bounced off the tail gate and down the freeway behind him. I couldn’t help but think what a considerate and generous person he must be to want to leave those cans for someone to pick up later and exchange for the high rate offered in aluminum trade.

As if he hadn’t already exhibited an over-abundance of holiday spirit and generosity, I truly came to understand the meaning of Christmas in my final glimpse of this remarkable citizen in his over-exuberant heroic act.

Found at: http://gallery.markheadrick.com/humorous/christmas-tree-with-beer-can-ornaments/“Yeehaw!” he belched, as he floored it out of sight.
“I got this durned Christmas tree for freed – without a bar fight!”

I ask you, where else could I have witnessed such a spectacularly heart-tugging story during this special holiday season?

So, now I must say…

Merry Christmas to y’all! And to all a good night!

Ah, crud. That was a copyright issue, wasn’t it?

(Nope, nope. It has ya’ll. I believe I’m good on this one.)

***

 

Wild Weekly Photo Challenge: Flowers!

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

Here's what a year of gardening produces in my program...students who have budded into capable healthcare professionals.

Here’s what a year of gardening produces in my program…students who have budded into capable graduates, ready to spread their fragrant knowledge into the world!

Mary apparently didn’t always have a favorable disposition, based on how she’s introduced to us in Ye Olde English nursery rhyme here. Yet, it didn’t seem to stop people from seeking out answers from her. Why, I wonder? Well, from what I can tell…because she was obviously willing to give them. (Yes, I picked all that up in one charming little stanza.)

Mary was a gardener. Perhaps she dealt with a lot of weeds. I don’t know – the stanza didn’t say. I’m simply projecting. But she did obviously sow seeds and cultivate her crop to assure it would grow – abundantly and beautifully. Her garden was full of a variety of cultivated products too, and she was individually proud of how each turned out. She doesn’t miss a beat in listing them (like her children) either, and calling them pretty (and pointing out their order – all in a row). In other words, her showcase hadn’t happened by accident! It had happened from Mary’s planning and care.

How often do we haphazardly begin each day, our interactions only happening by accident when we stumble across someone who first speaks to us (or maybe sometimes we feel that we don’t even need to bother)? How often do we leave our lives up to happen-stance, never even stopping to consider a good purpose for our days? What if, instead, we woke up with a farmer’s attitude – ready to greet the new day and go out to tend to our garden?

For me, that begins with cultivating a seed inside with some contemplative devotional time (we’ll translate that to pulling weeds), then some contemplative reflective time (cultivating my garden – where I often allow my thoughts to be recorded in words). But my garden can’t end there if I truly wish for it to be a garden. Gardens are meant to be shared! (So, on occasion, I let someone like you see my sprouts and buds too! Again, I try to pull all the weeds first, of course). Remember, even as contrary as Mary might have felt sometimes, she was obviously willing and ready to share her garden’s blessings when people came in search of them. (Maybe the next stanza in Mary’s life would’ve shown her going outside of her own garden’s comfort zone and taking a bouquet elsewhere.) That’s what we might call the beginning of a legacy – something we can leave that spreads out much greater than – beyond – ourselves.

Silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids in a row…what a much nicer legacy to display than grumpy thoughts and tainted words and anger in the heart stowed. Gardens are meant to nourish the body and the spirit, depending on the crop that’s being produced. Today’s prompt is a good reminder that bright, colorful crops serve to wipe out the dullness in an otherwise dreary world.

FLOWER POWER!  I’ve put together a few more flowery arrangements in photos, to hold me over until the Spring buds get a little pushier…thought I’d share them today with you.

Seattle_fall

Here’s one way Seattle’s Pike Street Market grows its garden.

And here's another... (Pike Street Market, Seattle, WA)

And here’s another… (Pike Street Market, Seattle, WA)

Flowers framing a lovely, relaxing scenic view.

Flowers framing a lovely, relaxing ‘Southern Living’ scenic deck view.

A favored Mother's Day gift - because the giver keeps growing in my heart daily.

A favored Mother’s Day gift – because the giver keeps growing daily in my heart.

pink flower girl

And here’s a sweet little flower girl I’d pick any day!

_____________________________________________________________________
I’m participating in the online adventure travel and photography magazine LetsBeWild.com’s Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggers. This week’s Challenge is: Flowers!

The truth is, I’m throwing these into the photo pile at the last minute, just as the challenge is about to close (which is also convenient, as I wasn’t anticipating receiving any accolades). But it was a great reason to brighten up my wintry site with a splash of spring bouquets!

Life’s Greatest Gift

“Life’s a bitch – and then you die,” Woebegone shrugged, as if he could care less.

“No, it isn’t, Woebe,” squeaked Singsong back, full of cheer. “Life’s a marvelous adventure, filled with a plenitude of fun things to do!” She sighed dreamily while looking upward, as if she could peer into the creative recesses of her imagination.

“Which is it, Wise One?” Woebegone inquired in a somewhat circumspect manner.

“Neither,” came the Old Seer’s decisive reply. “And both.” He paused for Woebegone and Singsong to draw nearer to him, patiently waiting until he was certain he had their full attention. He good-naturedly chuckled as he continued, “Though life is never as you plan it and hardly what you, yourself, set out to make of it, precious ones, only you can control your response to the gifts it offers.”

“Gifts?! Hmph,” Woebegone groaned with no tone of gratitude. “I’ll gladly give mine to someone else!”

“And that, young, imprudent Woebe, is why you do not appreciate the beauty of life’s gifts. You lack patience enough to allow them to be fully unwrapped – to reveal themselves to you completely over time,” serenely instructed the Seer.

“I’ll gladly take them all, then!” squealed Singsong with glee.

“And that, my frivolous fairy,” continued the Wise One, “is why you do not ever fully appreciate them either. You strew the packaging all about, greedily flitting from one present to the next – without ever taking time to savor the depth of just one.”

Singsong sobered somewhat, while Woebegone took on an ounce of sprightly spirit.

“Which of the gifts, Wise One, is best, then, to open?”

The Old Seer’s wrinkles each turned upward in delight that his wee ones were learning to ask the better questions of life. “Ah, yes. The greatest gift life offers, my little nymphs, is, without question, the gift of…experience.”

DSCN1032

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Readers, I expect this will be the raciest word post you’ll get from me. Though I recognize the importance of my personal witness to some readers who could become offended, I ask that you take in the message as a whole and remember that it’s not our work to become offended by others; it’s our greater work to offer hope and meaning to those seeking Truth. On the swing side, those of you who are not offended, quit smirking. I am not a goody two-shoes. I just try to walk in the footsteps of the Only One who is Good (and fail every day, but I still know I’m cherished and I am His). 🙂

With that said, this bit of flash fiction…(Wait…did you read that piece as fiction? Hopefully, you’ll buy into what my Old Seer had to say, even if you don’t ever meet up with his magical fairy friends)…

anyway, this week’s writing was in response to Trifecta: Week Sixty-One Writing Challenge:

And now we move on to this week’s one-word prompt.  Apologies in advance to those who are easily offended…

This week’s word is:

BITCH (noun) (3rd definition)

3: something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant

Please remember:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone.  Please join us.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Embrace Life! Embrace Your Gifts! Embrace the Experience! -jody

Vanilla and Chocolate Swirls

32 Flavors:

Vanilla, chocolate, or something else entirely?
__________________________________________________________________

When my oldest son was in first grade, one of his best friends was William. Both boys were tall for their age, looking each other eye to eye. They both enjoyed romping around on the playground and playing kickball on the poorly kept baseball field during recess. And they loved to climb up their make-believe metal fortress that led to a monkey bar bridge where they could swing into battle or to freedom – depending on the fantasy of the moment. Perhaps some likeness such as height or outdoor/sports interests brought these two boys together in friendship. But nearly every afternoon, after I had picked my son up from after-school care, I’d get to hear about that day’s imaginary adventures – with the majority of them fondly including the name William.

One afternoon, when I arrived to pick my son up, I became concerned when I couldn’t spot him anywhere on the playground. One of the kids (most likely William) called out that he was inside. It was a magnificently beautiful day, so I couldn’t imagine why my son – who loved to romp outdoors – would have sequestered himself in the cafeteria commons. I didn’t have to wait too long for my answer, though, as my foot hit the first stair going in that direction.

The head of the afternoon daycare, Ms. V – a stern, matronly sort – sharply greeted me with, “He’s sitting inside, in time-out.”

“Okaaaay….” I drawled out, expecting to get an explanation as I continued ascending the stairway. When all I got was pursed lips and ‘the evil eye,’ I took a stab at, “May I ask why?”

“Your son made a very prejudiced remark today, and we don’t do that here,” she nearly spat at me, crossing her arms to emphasize her disgust.

Needless to say, I was horrified. My heart began to race; my palms became sweaty. My first real ethical confrontation as a young parent. Where had I gone wrong?! In no way had I taught my child anything about racial differences or prejudiced behavior. My best work friend (which is the only place I could afford the opportunity to have friends at that time in my life) was of a different race than me; and my husband’s best work friend (who he always found time to hang out with beyond work) was of a different race than him. These friends came to our house when life afforded it and socially interacted with us and our two young sons. I felt horrified, suddenly also recalling that my son, himself, had a dear friend at school (named William) who was not of his same race – though he’d never made mention of it, leaving me to hope that he was spiritually color-blind. Surely, there was some mistake here. I wanted – no, I needed – some clarification.

“Who did he make the remark about?” I nervously began.

“He called William a bad name.” I could feel her glare on the back of my neck, as I’d already walked past her around the corner, to the inside to find my son.

“William?!” I blurted. I was shocked and probably stuttered the next words. “But…William is one of his very best friends!” It was then that something didn’t feel right in my soul. I felt that B needed to have the ability to tell his side of the story and that I needed the ability to turn this into a learning opportunity for him. “Is this true, B?” I asked, coming upon my 6-year-old son, whose head was hanging low.

He looked up at me with tear-filled eyes and answered, “Yes, but he called me a name first, momma.”

I turned to the director. “Is that true?”

“It doesn’t matter. What your son said was racist,” she firmly responded, throwing her head up to emphasize her positional authority over us both. No sooner had she said it than I saw William timidly peeking around the corner.

“Hi William,” I greeted him. “Would you come over here and let’s talk about this together?”

He nodded, his eyes wide as he approached.

“Since B’s in trouble, I’m going to let him tell me what happened first, and then you can tell me if it was something different, okay?” I asked, worried as I said the words, wondering what horrible thing I was about to hear.

William dropped his head and nodded.

I looked at B, my eyes conveying that I expected to hear the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I knelt down beside him so he couldn’t hide his face from me.

“We were climbing the jungle gym,” B tentatively began, “and…and…William was behind me, and…I wasn’t climbing fast enough. He wanted to get around me, so…”

I looked at William, waiting to see if he would affirm the story, thus far. He stepped up next to B and nodded his head.

B seemed satisfied at his agreement and continued. “So William said to me, ‘Move out of the way, you vanilla ice cream cone!’” (I had to purse my lips to hide the amusement, as B dropped his head in shame as he went on with his story.) “So I said, ‘Oh yeah? Well, if I’m a vanilla ice cream cone, then you’re a chocolate one!’”
The boys’ eyes caught one another’s and I saw that they, too, were both trying to hide an exchanged grin.

“And then…?” I pressed, bracing myself for the worst to come, wondering how much worse the progression in name calling was going to get.

“And then…well, Ms. V yelled at me to get off the jungle gym and come sit in time out – that I wasn’t to ever say that again because I was being p-p-…,” he nearly sobbed.

I was mortified, not even wanting him to say the word, or to understand its meaning – lest it could have the future ability to define something in him that would take away his innocence. I threw up my hand for him not to continue. I’m sure my cheeks were burning, as I was feeling pretty livid at the moment. I looked at both the boys, unable to address Ms. V in that instant. “So, let me get this straight. William, you called B a vanilla ice cream cone?”

“Yes’m,” he answered, looking a little embarrassed.

“Do you like vanilla ice cream cones?” I asked.

“Yes’m,” he answered again.

“Me too,” I smiled. “And B, you called William a chocolate ice cream cone?” I verified.

“Yes’m,” he answered, still looking ashamed.

“Aren’t chocolate ice cream cones your very favorite?” I pressed.

“Yes’m,” he looked up, his eyes showing a little light to them once again.

“Well, let me tell you both a little secret,” I continued. “My favorite kind of ice cream cone comes from using the handle in the middle – the one where it swirls the vanilla and the chocolate together.” I received two big grins at this revelation. “And that’s what you two ice cream cones need to go and do,” I said, poking them in the bellies. “Go swirl around and play nice together while I talk with Ms. V. And no more name calling – even if it’s one of your favorite things, so no one has to sit in time out again! And…if you two can get along, maybe we can all go one day soon and get us an ice cream cone after school together!” Their smiles went full force at this.

 choco-vanilla-swirl

I didn’t ask Ms. V if B was dismissed from time out before I sent the boys on their way, which truthfully was a very uncharacteristic response for me. Being one of the youngest parents at the school, I’m sure I usually felt intimidated by the older and more child-experienced teachers. But on this particular occasion, I knew I was the one who had gotten it right. These kids weren’t jaded and I intended to keep it that way for as long as the matter was under my control. So I didn’t feel intimidated when I turned to this director and nicely chastised her by saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the worst thing the rest of the world could ever think to call one another was a vanilla or a chocolate ice cream cone? I’m sure we’d all be better off.”

I didn’t need to wait for her answer. I just turned and walked away.

Punctuating that Christmas Has Gone – Wrong

Mistletoe and holly wreath hanging
out with my family I am avoiding
singing fa-la-las today so loudly
Santa himself could hear me swearing
my heart has taken a good beating
all year long-
-ing

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I’m participating in Trifecta’s Trifextra Challenge for this weekend:

“This weekend we want you to give us a pithy summary of your feelings about the holidays.  Your response does not need to be cynical or sarcastic.  We welcome all thoughts and feelings about this time of year–so long as you express those thoughts and feelings in 33 words.”

You can check out others’ entries or submit your own at:

Trifextra: Week Forty-Seven

I decided I’d make my response interactive & allow YOU, dear reader, to decide exactly where YOU would like to insert YOUR own expressions of meaning into my holiday mix. Dig in with your personal plate of pithiness…

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Do you have any “Christmas Gone Wrong” stories to share? 

If so, please feel free to comment or leave a ping-back so others may hear them!