Archive | November 2011

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

“Dad, I was wondering if you could help me get a Christmas tree,” I asked.  It was my first Christmas in the duplex.  My first Christmas in my own place, not living in my childhood home with Mom and Dad any more.

Of course, Dad said yes.

Dad came over early Saturday morning.  We were going to go downtown to the Farmer’s Market where we used to get all of our “real” trees before Mom decided that we needed to have an artificial tree.  Mom thought it was best to get an artificial tree because it was easier, it did not cost as much, and it was less hazardous.   Right about the time I got a stuffed Snoopy for Christmas was about the time we got an artificial tree.  No matter how annoying my younger self got or how much I begged, we never got a real tree in that house ever again.

Now that I had my own little rented place, I was ready to get a real tree.

Dad was all bundled up with his dogged ear cap and chopper gloves keeping him warm.  The collar of his coat stood high to block out the cold.  The newly fallen snow swirled around in the wind and was piled in drifts around the house.

After I pulled on my boots, wrapped myself up in my black pea coat, and put on my black woolen cap, off we went in Dad’s car.

It was a short trip to the Farmer’s Market.  We passed the large, old houses on Fremont Avenue.  They towered high on each side of the street and broke up the grayness of the sky.  When we arrived, we traipsed along the snowy paths, and I saw the tree that I liked almost right away.  It was just a little taller than me, and it had very sturdy branches with plenty of needles.

We told the man that we liked that tree, and Dad paid for it, which was a surprise.  I was ready to pay, but was glad to be a kid with a Dad who wanted to pay for my first Christmas tree.

Mom had sent the old tree stand over with Dad.  When we got back to the duplex, we put the tree in the corner of the dining room in front of the bay window, so that its soon-to-be lights could be seen from the street by passersby.  I made sure there was plenty of water.  As the tree started to thaw out, it let off a piney smell that emanated throughout the entire place.

Dad wished me luck, and I thanked him before he left for home.

I put up the lights, I strung popcorn, and dangled the strings on each branch.  I placed golden bulbs evenly amongst the branches.

Days went by.  I noticed that the tips of the branches were starting to turn brown, the piney smell had faded way too fast and that the tree was not drinking any water.  Whenever I walked through the dining room, some needles would fall.  The needles clinked as they fell on the golden bulbs and the lights, and made a perfect circle beneath the tree on the wooden floor.  I wondered what was wrong.

I talked to Dad and Mom about it.  They didn’t know either.  We dubbed that tree the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.  Sadly, all the needles were gone before Christmas.  I did not dare plug in the lights.  The bare branches held a wilted popcorn string.  The golden bulbs were the only thing that sparkled.  I felt like Linus without my blanket, I was so upset.

A few days after Christmas, I quickly gave up on my dream of ever having a real tree again, and I went to Frank’s and bought an artificial tree for half price.

Many years went by with time spent with that artificial Christmas tree.  I dragged that tree into the house that I lived in with my husband.  Then, the kids got to know that fake tree too.  Nobody really liked it, except my Mom.

Right about the time that our youngest child, Matthew, got a stuffed Snoopy for Christmas was about the time when Laura, our oldest child, started asking if we could get a real tree.  I thought back to my Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  I didn’t know if I had it in me to go through the anguish of another sad tree shedding its needles one by one right before my eyes and ears.

The asking and prodding multiplied among our three children.  Over and over I heard, “Can we get a real tree?”  That question brought back many memories of my young whining self – that little girl who always wanted a real Christmas tree because it makes Christmas more real.

So off we went early one Saturday morning.  We shuffled along the paths and found a beautiful tree.  We told the man what tree we liked.  I watched him saw off the bottom of the trunk.  It was so that the tree could drink water.  That is when I realized that was what we forgot to do before my dear old Dad and I left the Farmer’s Market!  It had been so long since we had gotten a real tree, that Dad and I forgot to saw off the bottom.

Good grief.  I felt like such a blockhead!


Embrace the Curl

“Is your hair naturally curly?” a lady asked me one hot, humid summer day.

“Yes,” I said. I never exactly know how the curly hair conversation is going to go. Sometimes when people ask if I have naturally curly hair, it ends up with them giving me a compliment, and that is nice. Other times, the conversation goes in the other direction.

“The last few years my hair has turned curly and I just hate it,” she said as she tugged on her hair as if pulling it would make it go straight. “Before this curly mop, I had straight hair. I just don’t know what to do with it now. Each day is different. How do you handle it?”  I guessed that no compliment was going to be coming my way.

“It is true, that every hair day is different. I used to fight it, but now I just embrace the curl,” I said with a smile. She smiled but seemed as if she was not happy that I did not help her with her problem, and she walked away without saying thank you when I told her that I thought her hair looked cute.

There were many days when my curls frustrated me especially when I was in junior high school. At that time Marcia Brady from the Brady Bunch was the cutest girl on TV. It seemed like every girl in my school had long, beautiful, shiny, straight hair that grew and grew, longer and longer. Everywhere I turned I saw glistening hair being flung this way and that. I grew my hair. It grew and curled, and grew in waves. All my tricks of trying to make my hair straight never worked. It never ended up looking like Marcia Brady’s hair. My school pictures looked as if I was trying to think my hair straight, and it was not a pretty sight.

Marcia Brady

Then the 80s arrived, and big hair was in. I noticed that the hot and humid days were the best for curly-haired people. Sometimes the straight-haired people looked so sad on muggy days. They complained, “I just don’t have any body in my hair when it gets this humid.” That is when my hair and I became friends. People were spending a lot of money getting permanents, trying to get the curly hair look. Even though my hair and I were getting along, I thought that spending money on permanents was just crazy!

One day, I found out how I look with straight hair.  I had heard that hormones can do odd things, and I learned this on the day my first child was born. I got that spurt of energy that they say you get before going into labor, but I didn’t know that was what was happening to me. I was driving all over town, running errands, my belly so big that it hit the steering wheel and I could hardly touch the accelerator. I noticed in the rearview mirror that my hair had gone stick straight. The hair that I thought I always wanted made me look awful. Ever since that day I realized that I liked my curly hair.

Even though I can look like a puff-ball at times, and each hair day looks like a different hairstyle, I like that I have learned to embrace the curl.

A Letter to My Dog


Dear Lila,

I am glad that you are a part of our family, and that you are here to remind us of what should not be forgotten. Sometimes humans get so busy, and we forget about simple things that bring a smile into our days and into our lives. You are always happy to remind us that it is a good idea to:

  • Keep an eye on members of your pack when you are out and about;
  • When you haven’t seen those members of your pack for a long while or a little while, be sure to greet them like you haven’t seen them for a very long time;
  • Show your pack how much you love them;
  • Try to make friends wherever you are;
  • Spend time outdoors and appreciate the beauty of the day;
  • Learn new things;
  • Make time to play;
  • Run as fast as you can when you can;
  • Do silly things that make humans laugh;
  • Stretch out your muscles;
  • Enjoy getting your back scratched; and
  • Be thankful for our food and our home.

Thanks for not letting us forget!


Check out A Letter to My Dog.  You can post a letter to your dog on this site, and it will be considered for publication in a book. 

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