Wednesday, December 24, 2008

dad and the star

One Christmas Eve, when I was about four and my brother was two, we sat patiently (as patiently as two young kids can) after dinner as we watched Mom and Dad trim the tree. Dad had brought the tree in that evening. Yes, he was one of those who does his Christmas shopping and tree-buying on the Eve.

I remember squirming with excitement as we watched him attach the lights and fuss with them until they all lit up (yay!) And then watched Mom and Dad unwrap, one by one, beautiful glass-blown ornaments, with sparkly, glittery frosting in spots and hang each delicate decoration on the tree. Some came from Dad's family, some from my Mom's. I doubt if we were allowed to even get near them. We were told they were VERY fragile.

Finally, the box was empty, the tinsel was on (we probably got to throw that on) and the tree was done. But wait a minute - where was the star? I remember my mom quietly expressing that maybe we should just skip it, or to be careful, but my dad was going to put the star at the top of the tree no matter what.

He climbed up on a chair. It was a tall tree, our Victorian-era house had high ceilings. He leaned over. He put the star on top. And then. BAM. The whole thing went crashing over, beautiful ornaments shattered, colorful, glittering shards all over the floor.

My brother and I started wailing. Dad and Mom looked at each other, silently. Then he climbed down, went to get his coat and headed out into the night. I think the only shop open after 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve was Woolworth's. He came back in, put the tree back up, more securely this time. Mom swept away the broken ornaments. We all put on the new ornaments, and also what few had survived the crash.

I still have one or two of those Woolworth's treasures left. I also have the same star. I always put it on first, at the very top of the tree and smile and think of Dad.

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