If a tree falls in the forest…


Like millions of Americans, we put up our Christmas tree during the long Thanksgiving weekend. In past years, it was millions of Americans minus one, because we never got around to it until maybe a week before Christmas.

But this year we were on top of it, and we chose the biggest tree we had ever had. It was a monster. Nine feet if it’s an inch.

In the past, military duty always seemed to get in the way and as the calendar winded down toward Christmas, so did our options. A week before December 25th, we were lucky to find a small tree with branches, let alone a large, full one.

But this time, since we were early we found a beauty. We spent an entire day decorating it, singing Christmas carols, and reliving the memories that each ornament brought to mind. Later that night, the little family went to bed. Our daughter was nestled all snug in her bed while visions of sugar-plums danced in her head. Mama had just settled down for a long winter’s nap.

I stayed up. Deadlines wait for no one.

At about eleven o’clock, as I was working on the business of being a cartoonist, the tree fell.

It didn’t just fall. It crashed. Ornaments shattered against the floor. Water splashed and spilled all over the carpet. The massive fir slammed against a chair and finally came to rest on its side. I didn’t have the presence of mind to snap a picture, but it looked something like this.

No one woke up.

I heaved the mighty tree back into a vertical position, then spent the next hour re-decorating and cleaning up before focusing once again on my laptop.

Then, with a mighty roar, it fell again.

More shattering. More spillage. More destruction.

This time, my wife woke up with the terrible sound of the second collapse. Horrified by what she saw, she helped to lift and move the tree. We finally got it back up, removed the rug (it was wet), and secured it. Then we cleaned up and rehung the ornaments. This is how it looks now.

The red cargo straps give it a “Christmassy” look, don’t you think?

You have heard the rhetorical question: If I tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? I’m not sure.

But it falls in the living room – twice – it makes enough noise to wake the dead.

The important lesson of this experience is that change can be a good thing if it is managed carefully. If not, it might be best to wait until a week before Christmas and get the tree with no branches.


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