2012.01.18 A flap over a mystery gift

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

There was something unusual about our living room over the holidays. There was the smell of a fir tree and it was coming from a live fir tree. Maybe the word “live” isn’t accurate, but it was recently deceased.

For the past three years, our Christmas tree consisted of a cheap-looking artificial tree suspended from twine. It was a moving tree, capable of swinging through the season.

Our hanging tree started the year Colleen and the kids were off traveling somewhere and I remained behind to make a newspaper. I was also given the order to decorate for Christmas.

We had an artificial tree in the basement that I really didn’t appreciate all that much, but I didn’t really like the idea of cutting a tree down to place in the house for a couple of weeks and then throwing it away. Just one of those seasonal dilemmas.

I went to the basement that year and decided that if I were to use that tree, I would make it different and the swinging tree was born.

I figured that after one year of that, I wouldn’t be asked to decorate again, but that wasn’t the case. It was requested at least two more years.

This year was different. Colleen came home from Ann Arbor with an actual recently deceased tree inside the car.

The tree itself was all wrapped up in twine to keep it in a tight, missile-like shape which I found quite impressive. Easy to carry, easy to fit through doorways. What will they think of next?

Someone is probably now saying that their tree came that way in 1954, but I don’t recall ever seeing one packaged that way.

We seem to be infamous for getting our tree up late and also for getting it back down late. Don’t expect two very busy people to get right on it.

It remained on the porch for several days before I finally received my orders to remove some of the lower branches for use as decoration and to cut off enough of the trunk so that it was narrow enough to fit into the tree stand.

It wasn’t too much of a battle. I think I only marred one item of clothing with sap. Once the tree was erected, it remained undecorated until another child arrived home—someone with a little time on her hands.

When e-mails from children arrived asking what I wanted for Christmas, I pleaded for “not much.” I need to pare down; not add to the collection. I suggested something consumable or something I could give away, like a geocache travel bug.

It turned out well. I did get an interesting travel bug—a small item that’s placed inside a geocache and moved on and on to other locations.

One I found in Kentucky has traveled through Japan and is now in eastern Europe. There’s one I made with a piece of printing metal from the Observer that’s been making its way across England.

This new one I received will soon be registered and placed somewhere to begin its travels. A gift that will take up no space in my life.

I received grapefruit from Louisiana, along with some sugar cane to sweeten my life. An excellent consumable gift that will disappear. I have a gift card to purchase apps for an iPad. Much pleasure with no space taken up.

Our recent trip to Savannah for a wedding was covered by the gift of carbon offsets to counter the fuel burned en route.

There was one other possibility of a present that I’ve noticed on the back porch. There was a box addressed to me from South Carolina.

I’ve done nothing more than look at it to see that it was still unopened, but when Colleen discovered it, she brought it to me and brought a pair of scissors to cut the tape.

I continued writing the news story that I was working on and occasionally pondered what it was. Did I order a present for someone that I forgot to get under the tree? Had I bought a present for Colleen’s birthday that follows shortly after Christmas?

I finished the story and I cut open the box, with Colleen standing by. She was anticipating something good. A post-Christmas treat.

There at the bottom of the box, under packing material, was a rubber flap for the back of my electric lawnmower. The old one tore; Black and Decker was good enough to send a new one.

It seems like they could have gift-wrapped it.

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