December 17, 2009

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Is Anyone Else Afraid of Christmas Trees? Happy Holidays from Kate...whose confession about trees begins here.... How can something as beautiful as a tree in winter possibly inspire fear? That is the question we address today, dear reader. And perhaps, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I'm not really afraid of Christmas trees, so much as I am afraid of the process of procuring and setting up Christmas trees. I think I mentioned here in a long ago column the year that my family had two Christmas trees. That was the year that my father just couldn't get around to going out onto the family's 140 acres and chopping down a tree. It got closer and closer to December 25th. My brother, and sister and I were coming home for the holidays, and my mother, who actually hated Christmas and all the hooha it entailed, thought it would be unwelcoming for her children to return to a house that didn't have a tree. She was a teacher, and after the school festivities were done and the children had departed for vacation, my tiny 5' 1" mother wrestled the school tree into her little Pinto and brought it home, only to find that my father had finally broken down and cut a tree. Faced with the family equivalent of a public relations nightmare, the three peace-making Clark children refused to choose his tree or hers, but set up two trees at opposite ends of the living room. Perhaps that was the beginning of my tree trauma. Perhaps it began longer ago than that. All I know is that I find the process of choosing a tree, loading it on the car, unloading it, dragging it inside, and making it stay upright in the stand more trouble than pleasure. One year, I couldn't make the darned thing stay upright. After struggling with it for the better part of an hour, I told my husband that I was quitting. That MEN put up Christmas trees. "Not Jewish men," he said, and went back to his desk. I opened the living room door and threw the tree out into the yard. When the boys were teenagers and the older one had a license, I assigned them the task of going and getting a tree. That was another form of disaster. They treated it like homework, procrastinating until it was December 24th. Finally, I ordered them into the car and away we went, only to find that almost every place had sold all their trees, or closed up shop and gone home. We did finally find a tree...sort of ugly and too expensive, but at least we had a tree. The next year, we went out as a family to get the tree, and as we were returning, some dim-bulb bimbo who wasn't paying attention slammed into the back of my car. The Mass. state trooper who showed up was unbearably arrogant, and my car spent the next three weeks in the shop. But finally, I got smart. I got green and thrifty, and I went out and bought a small, live tree. It fit in my car--no lashing giant, unstable green objects to the roof. It took ten minutes to decorate. There were no problems about disposing of it, I simply moved it out to the yard. But now, alas, after four blissful seasons without my annual tree trauma (although another dim bulb woman driver, probably someone on a cell phone, did manage to run into my car again two Christmases ago) the poor tree has died. Today I drove around and looked at live trees. They're prickly. They're too heavy to wrestle into my car by myself. Finally, after wandering around several places, searching for the perfect little tree, I began to wonder: Will the little family actually care if we don't have a tree this year? I'm afraid they will. So tomorrow, if the weather is fine, I'm going to load my semi-retired husband into the car, and we're going to go and find a nice, small, live tree. That way, he can help heft it into the car, and I'll have company when that periodic holiday event, the running into of Kate by an inattentive woman driver, occurs. It's about time for that to happen again. So, to all of you who love the trees--enjoy! And those of you who have interesting tree stories to tell--come sit by me and share. _______________________________ On Saturday, we'll be celebrating another lovely ritual of the season--the solstice. At our neighbor's party, we will gather by the river around a lovely bonfire. As the flames rise high into the night sky, we'll throw our own bundles onto the fire, letting go of things that trouble us, or pieces of ourselves that we don't like. And like my tree, when I finally get it set up and decorated, it will be a magic moment of color and light, neighborliness and sharing.
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Please Put the Christmas Commercials Away And No One Will Get Hurt posted by Leann Sweeney I am one of those people who get the Christmas blues every single year. But for once I am beginning to understand part of the reason. It's those darn commercials that begin in early November and continue on for more than two months--because they keep on selling stuff at bargain prices long past New Years. Not really bargains, but they sure want you to think so. Okay, longest running least favorite Christmas commercial? "Every kiss begins with Kay." If that's true, then how did I give birth to two children without ever receiving anything from that jewelry store? Because, I must admit, kissing was involved in creating those children. So Kay is lying about EVERY kiss. And I am so disappointed in them for perpetuating that fairy tale year after year. Next, the Hershey's kisses pretending to be bells. Annoying as all get out and yes, part of that annoyance is because I am allergic to chocolate. Do not keep reminding me, Hershey's. I'm depressed, remember? People singing on mountain tops and trying to make us believe that Coke will make us all smile and hold hands and love one another. Coke is connected to dental visits, lap band surgery and Jenny Craig. Oh, and New Years Resolutions that will be forgotten by the time the Super Bowl rolls around. Target convincing the gullible public that they can give their families everything they ever wanted and not overspend. No one ever bought one item at Target. Not in the history of the universe. On average, if people are like me, they walk out of Target having spent about twenty times more than they decided they would spend when they came in the door. Toys 'R Us telling me over and over and over that I can shop at 3AM. Even when my kids were small, you wouldn't find me shopping in a toy store at that hour. So quit telling me to do this. I don't like your tactics or your commercials, Toys 'R Us. Big bows on luxury cars. Raise your hand if you ever got a $50,000 car for Christmas. Have I made my point? Trailers for Christmas movies. By the time I have watched each trailer 500 times on TV, I have had all I can take. Why go to a movie if you know the whole plot or heard all the best jokes? But there are a series of commercials that air at the holidays every year that I actually look forward to. And watch with a smile on my face. The Clydesdales. Yup. They could run those commercials all year long and I'd never tire of them. I'm not completely bah-humbugged if I can enjoy one or two commercials, right?

Lorraine Bartlett

Five women, five weekdays, many surprises.

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