There is a memory . . .
The old man with bony shoulders, balding head, and a pinch of snuff tucked in his lower lip, is wading through a field of knee-high sagebrush. He carries a small saw in his right hand.
The man is my maternal grandfather, the Rev. George D. Cobb Sr., and he and the small boy trudging after him are looking for the “just right” cedar tree for Christmas.
Several are spotted around the field and we do find just the right one. That night, my mom’s baby sister decorates the tree with strings of popcorn and long chains of paper loops she has carefully colored and pasted together.
It is the first Christmas tree in my memory.
That memory came fresh as yesterday on a morning just past. I am sitting in our living room, nursing my first cup of coffee of the day, visiting with our Christmas tree. It went up just the day before and was made beautiful by the blonde and a young lady I’ve called “Miss Orange” from her birth.
Another memory visits.
A tall man with skinny shoulders is followed by two small boys around a huge sprawl of cut Christmas trees for sale at the corner of McClellan Boulevard and Blue Mountain Road. I am now a father and the two small boys are everywhere but at my heels.
But they are not unheard:
“This ‘un, Daddy! This un!”
“No Daddy! Over here! This ‘un is prettier!”
It takes a while to look at 300 different Christmas trees. The good-looking blonde mother standing nearby is smiling. She is having fun. The two small boys are having fun. Me, I’m wondering why anyone would want to be a father, especially at Christmas tree time.
That memory brings another. It is of the time we actually took saw in hand with the two young boys at my heels and went off into the woods looking for just the right tree . . . as I had with my grandfather.
And that’s all I’m going to say about that . . .
It is after those memories are made and filed that I take really smart.
I am, along with the good-looking blonde mother, prowling the Christmas-crowded aisles of the old Sears (now the county administration) building and find factory-made trees for sale.
OK . . .
“Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”
Thing is man can make a pretty fair facsimile. And man has done just that. We buy a tree that God did not make.
We take it home, stand it in the corner, and decorate with stuff man has also made. When we are finished she is absolutely lovely. I name her “Ellen.”
She lives with us for a happy 25 years or so, before old age and drooping limbs send her off to the county landfill.
Ellen was succeeded by “Gaudy Maudy,” a skinny, spinster looking tree, maybe the ugliest south of the Yukon. She has, without mourning, joined Ellen in the county landfill.
We are now on our third year with “She,” and “She” is absolutely lovely. It is not incidental that she is even more attractive in that:
1. Son-and-heir came by and hauled her out of the back storage building.
2. I managed to put her together (three sections) without hurting myself all that much.
3. The good-looking blonde, now a grandmother of several years, and “Miss Orange” dressed her up.
So it is that I sit here each morning before good daylight with a cup of coffee in hand, turn on her lights, and just visit. I do the same in the dark of night after the blonde is bedded down.
It is a time of good memories of Christmases past and I have a bunch of good ones.
Hope you do, too.
George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org