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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The Release

He slipped in during the most quaint hour of my life –

The moment in which I had given up on my frantic search for fulfillment,

yet only seconds before I was prepared to reside in kind with loneliness.

He surely had never been bold before now in the announcement of his intent –

For that matter, I was certain he’d thought nothing of me at’all,

seemingly caring very little for my former presence in his midst.

After all, we’d kept one another’s company, in an aloof sort of way, on prior occasions –

In past days, when his eyes had been upon others,

his heart fancying their presence on his arm

in lieu of mine.

I was quite taken aback when he at last turned his focus on me.

Oh, let me assure you. In a million years, I would’ve sworn to you –

I meant absolutely nothing to him.

I would’ve lifted my chin haughtily and declared to you –

I’ll never offer him the response he’s sought from so many others

before me.

Yet there I was, most peculiar in my retort to his grotesque charm –

Falling into his ample arms,

casting my breathiness upon his face,

feeling my heart no longer tepid to his touch.

Take me! I cried. I am yours!

He pulled me close to his frame,

wrapped me tenderly in his arms,

cloaked the chills traveling my spine.

Finally – my release –

as Death offered me his long-awaited kiss.

***

Written in response to this week’s Trifecta prompt – 3rd definition of:

QUAINT (adjective)

1:  obsolete:  EXPERT, SKILLED
2a:  marked by skillful design <quaint with many a device in India ink — Herman Melville>
b:  marked by beauty or elegance
3a : unusual or different in character or appearance :  ODD
b : pleasingly or strikingly old-fashioned or unfamiliar <a quaint phrase>

– See more at: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/2014/01/trifecta-week-110.html?showComment=1390310840545#c7083642183870303690

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.)

***

 

Trifecta Fiction: Seeking Graceful Closure in a Generational Gap

There she stood, in that dream space of familiar unfamiliarity, gazing upon a fair-haired young lady displayed in a breath-taking formal dress, likely dating to the early 1900’s, with a hand-tatted lace chemisette collar matching the gloves spilling over her wrists. Mounds of navy taffeta swirled about, pulled up into a small bustle in the back. A satin sash gathered it all in, with dainty pearl buttons carefully placed as opulent accents. The woman’s hair was elegantly piled upward in a loose pompadour. She had a fancy parasol opened to cover her in the mist, though it looked too elegant for anyone to actually consider using.

Danielle searched the beautiful profile questioningly, wondering who she was – until the other young woman turned directly towards her, her gaze soft, loving and kind. She extended a gloved hand to Danielle’s face, fingertips gliding across her cheek, brushing away a tendril of hair. Danielle gasped at the flawlessness of the woman’s skin, the way her bright blue eyes glittered and danced, rather than being faded to gray and sunken back into her head. This woman’s lips were full and vivid, her skin was the peachiest shade with the rosiest of cheeks. Danielle wanted to call the woman by name, but the only label she knew for this angelic creature didn’t suffice.  This beauty could surely never pass for anyone’s ‘Granny.’ After a few seconds of consideration, the best she could conjure was, “Mary?”

The other young woman’s eyes twinkled, her lips spreading upward, as she nodded her head, her face radiant. She took Danielle’s hand, gently pulling her back towards an ancient stone that could serve well as a make-shift bench. Mary carefully sat sideways, one foot crossed over the other in such a lady-like fashion that Danielle felt archaic and without any sense of grace at all. Mary daintily closed her parasol and leaned it against the rock, taking both of Danielle’s hands. Her eyes searched Danielle’s face, intent on finding something specific there.

_________________________

This one’s a little rewrite of a scene from At the Water’s Edge, in which my protagonist, Danielle, is wrestling with an important life-altering decision…and about to engage in a life-altering (as in, she might not have hers anymore) action. She’s in her current predicament after trying to honor her now-deceased grandmother’s final words to her. Or were they?

I’m submitting these 333 words in response to the Trifecta Challenge for Week Ninety-Three, in which the word was:

GRACE (noun)

– See more at: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/#sthash.d4MOL4ll.dpuf

And thanks to a lovely invitation from my lovely friend, Kir, I’m also submitting it to WriteOnEdge’s Write at the Merge, with this week’s theme: “The Space Between” (the pause between two events).

The First Kiss

I am so happy to rejoin The Ligo Haibun Challenge this week, as not only have I missed being a part of this community as of late, but I’ve come to adore the expression of the haibun.

Both of the prompts were fantasy-worthy this week, but as I understand it, the true style of a haibun more often (more correctly?) relates to one’s life experiences, telling the narrative or journaling the event using the prose/haiku combination. With that being said, one of the two prompts brought with it the gift of a recollection of prior days, known to many (with grinning memories) as “The First Kiss.”

The prompt was:

A kiss is a lovely trick by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.

Ingrid Bergman

And here is my haibun response:

At the back of the room, squatted low, just beneath the level of the half bookshelf, our young, smooth fingers slid down the spines of the books, both of us searching, longing for a taste of something neither had before experienced through our youthful senses. We dared not exchange ideas or glances, for fear of being called out by our teacher. My strident eyes darted from title to title, frustration building as nothing seemed to fit the bill. A little crease of frustration formed between my eyes, convincing me that I was focusing solely on my assignment; yet I couldn’t quiet the butterflies coming to life in my stomach as his arm brushed across mine to pluck his selection from the shelf. I turned to scrutinize his choice, feeling a mixture of jealousy that he’d made one so easily, along with anxiety that he’d now be returning to his seat. As I glanced up from the cover, I was taken aback by the quick kiss that brushed against my cheek. I can’t tell you what my choice in reading material was after that moment; but I can surely tell you that he was my choice for that school year.

spent rest of that day /

hand clasped over cheek to hide /

burning sensation

Bee Czar

Honey B.
Urbanbees, CT

Our state – possibly even our world – may no longer be the bee’s knees.

Reports have been drizzling in for the past several months regarding the disappearance of bees. Honey has become as sparse as all sweetness in our region. While crops have ceased to reproduce, arguments breaking out amongst farmers have not, with stinging accusations about commercial pesticide and fungicide use.

Amidst this activity have come strange reported sightings of a new superhero bumbling around in our area. Witnesses claim to have seen a gigantic bee-like creature pollinating crops. Our state is even abuzz with rumors of an over-sized feral colony tending to a hive in an undisclosed location.

Hail Busy Bee! Let’s just hope he doesn’t come across the otherwise reported gang-related nemesis known as The Yellow Jacket, which could become a very sticky situation.

Photo of Busy Bee taken by our Friday Fictioneers photo-journalist, Jennifer Pendergast.
Copyright – Jennifer Pendergast

___________________________________________________

Concocted for Rochelle and her creative bunch over at Friday Fictioneers.

Unfortunately, I got stung on the 100-word-count this week, as every pollinated word tasted like honey on my lips and I couldn’t bring myself to allow anymore of them to disappear.

As much as I tried to keep this “faux report” lite & “punny” to go with the photo prompt, I hope you are able to hear my environmental concern between the lines.

To read Rochelle’s beautiful piece, as well as others AND to hear more about what scientists are saying about our shortage of bees, link onto the image to your left and check it out.