We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
After a holiday brunch this morning, the tree goes outdoors for a while dressed in his CVS lights with an extension cord. Thus the dude abides. It saddens me to see and hear how many people use fake trees these days. Me? Never. There's enough fake and phony in the world, I feel. Why add to it?
We like our farmy-comfy parlor. We do not use it enough, because we work too much and have too much to do. We can shove the furniture to the side and fit 40 people in there for jolly sit-down dinner parties, Are cigars allowed? Definitely yes. All tobacco is welcome. Boob tube? Absolutely not. Home-made and recorded music? Certainly. The pianny is excellent. Bring yer fiddle.
Best instruments in the world? The fiddle and the pianny. Just my opinion. Ye organ is just a different pianny. Ye guitar is just a half-baked fiddle.
When I read "the dude abides" I had a rush of memory, back to a day long, long ago in rural Western Pennsylvania. My twin brother, Roger, and I must have been, Oh, I guess, seven years old. We were out playing cowboys and Indians with our new Christmas cap pistols on a cold, muddy early January day when we ran around behind the old gray barn down by the creek. There, on what we called the junk pile, forlorn, haggard, a mere skeleton of itself, lay our family's Christmas tree on a sort of catafalque of pine needles. A few five & ten icicles glittered in the morning breeze from its denuded branches. We both stopped, gawking at what had only a few days earlier been the glory of our living room. Hardly a week, it seemed, had passed since we had participated in the family ritual of trudging out into the woods behind our house with flashlights and a hatchet to find this tree and cut it down and drag it back home to be decorated. I remembered being choked almost to tears by the sight before us. We both agreed that this was no way to treat the "good old Christmas tree" that had been the center of such joy. Tucking our pistols in our belts, we pulled the tree from its ignominious graveyard and began dragging it down the road from the barn to the house. I said I would retrieve the tree stand from the coal shed and Roger said he knew where to find the ornaments under the stairs. By the time we reached the kitchen door the tree had left a trail of needles and fake icicles but acquired a not inconsiderable "patina" of mud. We had the thing halfway through the door when my grandmother walked into the kitchen. She was a formidable woman, capable of making us tremble, or worse. We were made to tremble, and to expect worse if we did not get that tree "out of here" and come back to clean the needles and mud off the linoleum. In fear and sadness, we dragged the tree back. Christmas was over. And big people sure did see the world differently than we did.
Ralph Kinney Bennett
My father would hand cut one each year with a sharp hatchet. I think men have lost the skills of using a good hatchet. I gave up on real trees while we lived in the South where only old, dried up, smushed -from -shipping -conifer -of -some-kind are available. No nice blue spruce. Got my first fake trees this year. Little, pink, retro, very mid-century. Makes me happy. Plenty of real ones in the yard, which I "decorate" for the birds (they make wonderful and entertaining ornaments).
Never an artificial tree in this house. And this year the trees sold by our church youth org. were enormous -- we asked for a 7 ft. tree and got one that was about 8 1/2 ft. tall and 6 ft. wide near the bottom. A monster. But as we are Christmas-season purists, the tree will come down Monday on Epiphany, then placed on the curb for pickup by the city of Charlotte on Tuesday morning.
Well written Mr. Bennett, very sad that such unhappy memories are so teachable and last so long! I have spent my adulthood trying to recreate happy Christmas memories of my childhood in another country. I have found that no matter what I do, the season is bittersweet. When I was a child, my mother used to put our old tree in the frozen back garden and decorate it with pieces of bacon fat, suet and small mutton bones for the birds. They were often starving in the winter and it was a sight to see the little birds covering the branches. I did this one year in the city and it was covered in large Norway rats in no time. It was a shock to the system I tell you!
We have a friend--one or two not more. This particular friend spent his youth traveling around the upper midwest in a small rock band. Never doing drugs he developed a strong appetite for alcohol. But, that man is a special miracle. He has a wood shop and a heart of gold. It is his mind that stuns us. He is brilliant--can fix ANYTHING and make it better than new. He takes each year's Christmas tree and sands down the trunk until the heart of the tree gleams beautifully. He then makes Christmas ornaments for next year's tree. Sometimes, if the trunk was thick enough he makes other things--but it is those ornaments that glow from inside. Like the man who made them.
We'll take my daughter's 12 voter out tomorrow. Pretty much branch by branch since it won't fit through a door without being wrapped. Then we'll burn it as an offering to Ullr so he'll send plenty of snow for ski season.