“The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect.”
-Charles N. Barnard, Christmas 1972
One of the TV movies from 1972 was The House Without a Christmas Tree. In it a young girl named Addie, living in Nebraska in 1946, wants nothing more for the holidays than a Christmas tree, but her widowed father is bitter and refuses due to events from the family’s past.
In 1972, I also wanted a Christmas tree. The difference was my family already had an artificial one in the cellar and my father had too much Christmas spirits. Our tree just needed to be put up. The tradition was my father put the tree together and added the lights and my mother and I decorated it. However, I only got half of a Christmas tree that year and I will never forget it. It was my most memorable Christmas and not because I had recently gotten engaged. I bet you are thinking only the top half of the tree was used. No, that is not what happened.
Once I got older, my father liked to have friends over for an open house on Christmas Eve especially since he did not have to put any toys together. Since we had moved in to a smaller house, my mother decided we should not put up our artificial tree until after the guests left. This would provide more room for more guests. (How many more guests would this allow for anyway? Maybe two or three at the most. And what is a Christmas Eve open house without a Christmas tree?)
All of my father and mother’s friends came and stayed. I always thought an open house meant you came, had a drink and some Hor’s D’oeuvres and then left. Nobody left until 3 in the morning. I guess they didn’t have presents to wrap and put under their trees which were probably already up. The bar was open and everyone was having a good time. By the time everyone left, my father and fiancé, John, were three sheets to the wind, as the saying goes. Mom was tired and went to bed. Dad was tired and thought he would go to bed too and John decided it was finally time to go home. I decided it was time to put up the Christmas tree and reminded them of their promise. So, they did, sort of, and had a great time doing it. They put the front half of the tree together and pushed it up against a wall. When I asked them about the other half, they told me to use my imagination and pretend the back half was on the other side of the wall in the hall. After all, they could imagine it. Only two drunken men would. Dad also suggested the tree had a “split personality”. They told me to have fun decorating. Dad went to bed and John left.
I did decorate my half tree, but I think this could be a scene in one of those funny Christmas movies. Each year now, John threatens to put up only half a Christmas tree. Why is this the only thing he is nostalgic about?