Sunday, December 11, 2022

"Great Tree"

 A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas...

Photo credit: Lowe's Canada



Mid-seventies through mid-eighties

we caravanned each December

with the Mingerams, Leys and Shaws

to a tree farm in North Jersey

Our quest, the perfect tree


Bundled against cold

we trudged through snow

with rope and hand saws

in pursuit of a white or Scotch pine

or stately blue spruce

till we agreed and tagged our selection

Then, usually Dad, but sometimes Mom

and occasionally one of the children

shimmied beneath low laden boughs

belly in the snow

to saw the trunk and bring it down

We dragged the fragrant conifer down the slope

hoisted it onto the car roof

where it suddenly appeared

taller than we'd realized


Stopping for hot dogs on the way home

once someone asked

if the forest tied to our Volvo

were the municipal tree


We proudly set our trophy in a bucket of water

until the week before Christmas

then struggled

to force it through the doorway

(one time breaking the jamb)

dragged it through the dining room

into the sunken living room

and lifted its grandeur into a heavy duty stand

sometimes scratching the white cathedral ceiling


Friends often came to help

Mom brought out platters of pigs in blankets,

cheeses and dips, her very special homemade cookies

and a punch bowl of frothy nog

Out came boxes, boxes, boxes

of lights and tinsel and antique balls

hundreds of ornaments

made in Mom's ceramic classes

as well as Patti Ley's exquisite handpainted balls

carefully wrapped in wads of tissue

There were gift ornaments, travel momentos

miniature nativities, a Star of David

fashioned out of painted Popsicle sticks

and popcorn and cranberry chains

strung by the children

Some brave soul would climb a ladder

and lean way, way over

to place the Lenox angel on tippy top


We'd flick a switch and oooooh at its magnificence

Throughout the holidays, as the great tree settled

we'd keep clippers nearby

so we could snip our way into the living room


Late at night after the children were in bed

Mom would sit in the dark

except for the twinkling tree lights

and gaze peacefully at the glitz and glitter


After New Year's

came the tedious task of taking the tree down

wrapping, boxing and putting away

There was always an amusing moment

in the midst of drudgery

when somewhere deep inside the branches

we'd come upon an empty Coors can

(Bob Ley's annual prank)

We'd wrap the tree in an old bed sheet

lug it to the curb

and spend the next eleven months

vacuuming brittle needles

out of the shag


Maude Carolan

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