Grandma and her Christmas tree

Christmas, it seems, was often on my grandmother’s mind. I don’t know why. This was never explained, it just was, and perhaps is a mystery. Perhaps her husband wondered about it.

One day while my grandparents were riding around, they passed some property that had a small pine tree on a little knoll near the road.

“Oh my,” Grandma exclaimed. “What a perfect place for a little tree!”

“And it would be beautiful if they decorated it at Christmas time,” she enthused. “For it is just the right shape and size for a Christmas tree,” she continued.

“Do you suppose that’s why they planted it there,” she asked her husband, “to use as a Christmas tree?”

“If they didn’t,” Grandpa chimed in, “we could use it.”

“It’s planted close enough to the road, I could have it down and strapped on the car in no time,” Grandpa schemed. “It’d be gone before anyone could even notice it missing,” he continued matter of factly.

“Henry!,” Grandma shrieked in alarm (for that was his name), “you wouldn’t do that!”

“Just wait and see what I will and won’t do,” Grandpa replied. Time passed. And although they seldom traveled on the road that passed by the little pine tree, whenever they did, Grandpa always smacked his lips and asked Grandma, “Well now Ethel (that was her name) is your little tree still looking good for our Christmas tree?”

And Grandma always dependably replied, “Henry, stop that! “I don’t want to spend Christmas with you in jail for some darn prank of yours.

“And furthermore,” she’d go on, “I won’t bail you out, you darn fool, if you get caught doing some such thing.”

This little drama went on for quite some time. Grandpa claiming he’d cut down the little pine tree for Grandma, and Grandma calling him a ‘darn fool’ or worse for even thinking, let alone considering this.

It was, I believe, during or just before World War II and Christmas trees, as well as money, was in low supply. This upset Grandma to no end. “What will Christmas be like without a tree?” she bemoaned, as the holiday drew near.

“A Christmas tree?” Grandpa mused. “I’ll get you one, “he offered. “I know just where to get a good one,” And it’s not too far and it is really cheap too,” he added.

“Henry, you wouldn’t,” Grandma protested.

“You bet I would!,” Grandpa retorted and left.

A short while later he returned, hiding a freshly cut pine tree under a blanket and acting very furtively.

“Here,”he said to his wife and kids. “Come and help me get this inside and out of sight.”

They brought in the tree and hid it in the basement to dry off, for it was full of snow. Then Grandpa took the broom outside and swept away any tire and boot tracks that showed that he had been outside. Then he put his wet boots and coat out of sight.

“Don’t tell anyone that I was out this evening, should anyone ask or come knocking at the door,” he cautioned his family.

Grandma was madder than a wet hen, but Grandpa, in his own kind of glory, ignored her complaints. They had a Christmas tree, and he was looking no further than that. So she just simmered to herself about it.

The next day though, she put the tree up in the living room and began preparing for Christmas. And she did have a good, if not a guilt laden, Christmas. Putting her husband’s indiscretion out of her mind, as much as she could, helped. She only spattered about it occasionally. Henry was right, in his fashion, they did have a Christmas tree! And that did make her happy.

A few months later they were out driving once again down the road where the little pine tree had been. Only when they approached the knoll where it had been, to Grandma’s surprise (and relief) the fir tree was yet standing there. It hadn’t been cut down by Grandpa or anyone.

“You darn fool!” Grandma exclaimed to her husband.

Grandpa snickered, “I never actually said that I cut it down, did I?”he replied “You just assumed that I did.”

Nobody knows where Grandpa got the Christmas tree that year. (I’m betting from a farmer friend.) I’m not really sure if anyone even asked him, for it was all about fooling Grandma, and of course Christmas. One never knows what kind of gift one will get.

Grandma got a tongue in cheek prank gift, that was somehow in keeping with how Grandpa himself celebrated life.

Merry Christmas!

Catharine Clees Mourer

Dunkirk