My Own Christmas Apocalypse is Still Possible


Since you are reading today’s paper, no doubt you’ve already figured out that predictions the world would end based on the Mayan calendar were wrong.

If the doomsayers had been right, the paper wouldn’t be of much help. At the very least, the front page headlines would be screaming about the Mayan Apocalypse.

But December 21st has come and gone.

And, there’s been no global cataclysm.

The Earth has not collided with an imaginary planet, higher-than-normal ocean tides have not drowned our coastal cities and nothing even remotely transformative occurred yesterday, negative or otherwise.

But with all of the end-of-the-world, Mayan doomsday chatter, I actually thought about not submitting a column this week. Why bother if there is the potential that (a) no one is around to read it, or (b) we are all simply too busy picking up the pieces?

However, there’s not even the slightest sign of my personally hoped for alien invasion. So, I went ahead and dashed it off.

It’s about our Christmas tree.

My wife and I like to make a big to-do about fetching it. We’ve been known to don Santa hats and embarrass the kids by singing Christmas carols on the way to the farm where we almost always cut down our tree.

It’s a welcoming place. The people who run it are always helpful, and our middle-school daughter is always delighted by the rich, steamy hot chocolate they keep ready for customers.

It’s part of our Christmas tradition.

I say we “almost always” go there because last year, to our great disappointment, it was closed. The owners needed to preserve their stock. They just didn’t have enough trees to go around.

But this holiday season, it was as if they hadn’t skipped a year. Despite a gray, drizzly day, we were still welcomed with bright smiles. And, our daughter got her hot chocolate.

Picking a tree from the row upon row of farm-raised evergreens is not that hard to do, and it has become a predictable process.

Usually, one of us – our teenaged son, for instance – will spy a tree fairly close to the car.

How about this one?” he’ll ask.

The four of us will then gather around it for a quick inspection. Since none of us wants to appear crass in front of the tree, we initially agree that it’s a nice one and would do just fine.

Then we move on to its flaws.

After a while, either my wife or me or one of the kids ends up saying something like, “Well, we just got started. Let’s keep looking.”

It’s not a written rule, but each of us takes a turn at being shot down for picking a tree that’s either too tall, too short, too fat, not fat enough or maybe a little brown around the edges.

That’s why, by the time we all agree on a tree, we’re on the other side of farm. That first tree we considered starts looking pretty good about halfway back to the car.

After strapping it to the top of our vehicle (and stopping at least twice on the way home to make sure it’s still there), I am responsible for setting it up.

Now, I like having a tree standing in our living room during the holidays. It gives me a warm feeling seeing it lit up and decorated with the ornaments that my wife and I have collected over nearly 20 years of marriage.

But there’s one thing that always bugs me. I can never get it to stand up straight. No matter what I do, our trees always lean one way or the other.

This year, though, my wife, who is usually a stickler for such things, didn’t seem to mind.

It’s not like it’s the end of the world,” she told me.

Given a choice between believing her or the doomsayers who crop up from time to time, I’m sticking with my wife.

Because, after all this time, she’s still willing to put up with a Christmas tree that looks like it’s going keel over and suffer its own cataclysm in the middle of our living room each holiday season.

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