On Christmas Eve a long time ago, mom took us little kids to town for some forgotten reason. We left dad napping in our parents’ bedroom, just off the living room.
Outside, on the way to the car, we heard distant sleigh bells. Mom pointed up, and there was Rudolph’s red nose like Sputnik way up in the starry night sky. Talk about being excited. My sisters and I chattered like elves all the way to town.
An hour later we arrived home. Lo and behold. Santa had already stopped at our house. Our Christmas wishes were all under the tree, and dad was still asleep.
Our wows and yells woke him up. We had a merry old time admiring our presents, and laughing at dad for sleeping through Santa’s visit.
Dad usually cut our Christmas tree along the Michigan Gas Storage pipelines where he worked. He’d bring home these scrawny, pathetic little evergreens. Their branches could hardly hold up the ornaments, but they worked. His skinny trees became our ongoing Christmas joke.
One year dad must have been tardy. Mom and I went Christmas tree hunting out near the ghost town of Park Lake between McBain and Marion, where she’d grown up.
It was early December without any snow. On the east side of the railroad tracks threads of sunlight were shining through grey clouds, and there was a rainbow. That’s where we found our tree, near where the rainbow touched the ground. It stood in a ribbon of light waiting for us. Since then the Christmas tree has always been my favorite part of the holidays.
Years later, after my parents were divorced, I spent my first Christmas in Traverse City.
It was 1974, and I didn’t have any money, so I gave each member of my family a poem. In some ways things haven’t changed much. This year I’m giving all my readers two poems.