Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Dec. 21, 2007

"Fire up" the Christmas tree!

Although many people strive for a picture-perfect Norman Rockwell or Martha Stewart holiday, some of the most memorable are those that aren't so perfect. A recent e-mail message from college roommate Deb reminded me of that.

"Last night we were going to put up the downstairs Christmas tree," she wrote, "but we couldn't find the top of the tree. Then we remembered that last year we'd stored it in a different bag - and last summer we cleaned out the attic and saw that bag and thought it was from a tree we no longer had so we trashed it. Yikes! Luckily I called the manufacturer and had the model number and they still have the replacement section - only cost $28. That sure beats the price of a new tree!"

Husband Art's friend Ted said he wouldn't have bought a new top. He would just set the tree on a table against the ceiling and tell visitors the top was upstairs.

But Deb's story didn't end there. The following day, she found the missing Christmas tree top sitting on her sewing table. She and husband Chuck had searched that room numerous times and noticed greenery coming out of that bag, but thought it was a garland.

Hearing from Deb made me think back to our K-State residence hall days when we set up a "Charlie Brown" scraggly tree in our dorm room. We put it between our two beds and decorated it with various ornaments and lots of icicles.

One night, after washing and setting my hair, I put my bonnet hair dryer on, tied it under my chin, plugged it in and turned it on low. Deb was almost asleep and I was reading when suddenly the hair dryer started smoking and making a humming noise. I yelled and began thrashing my arms to get it off. Deb, thinking I was being electrocuted, jumped out of bed and ripped the dryer off my head - sending curlers everywhere - and threw the beast across the room, where it continued writhing. We stood watching for a minute, then burst out laughing. It seems the dryer motor had sucked an icicle off the nearby tree.

Mother-in-law Donna, 97, had an equally memorable Christmas the year she was 6. The family tree was always placed in a musical tree stand. Once the tree was trimmed, they lit the candles, wound up the stand, and sat back to watch the tree slowly turn while being serenaded by the stand's music box. But that year they received more than they had bargained for when a candle moved under a curtain and set it on fire. Her Dad quickly put it out, but Donna said she still remembers that incident vividly.

A Christmas tree also played a central role in a couple of stories from Art's second cousin Arden. The first was about her father when he was a youth living in New York. Their church was big and had a balcony, and the congregation always had a huge Christmas tree with lots of lit candles. Her father and another boy had the job of watching over the tree from the balcony. Each boy had a bucket of water and a long stick with a sponge on the end. If a candle tipped or started dropping wax, the boys were to immediately right the offender or put water on it to prevent a fire. Arden's father was proud that they never had a fire.

The other story involved Arden's mother. Her mother's father was a minister in a country church. After he officiated at Christmas Eve service, Arden's grandmother kept the children at the church so he could dash home, put the presents out, put the tree up on the inner porch and light the candles. This all went well until one year when they arrived just in time to see the tree catch fire. Arden's grandfather grabbed the tree and rushed outside with it, dumping it into the snow. The children were sad, but Arden's grandparents were thankful that nothing, including Arden's grandpa, was burned.

Certainly none of these Christmas adventures would be wished upon us by Mr. Rockwell or Ms. Stewart, but they sure make the holidays memorable!

2007 Index