So I have to tell this story about my mom.
Love you mom, in case you’re reading this. Of course, my mom would say that it’s really a story about my dad, but that’s just a matter of perspective, and opinion. Her opinion would be the ‘correct’ one, of course, but hey, I’m writing the story, so I’ll use whatever perspective I want! I mean, I’m almost 50 years old. Not that that carries any weight with my mom. You’re always 10 at mom’s house.
Annnyway, a couple years ago I was living back home with my parents for a few months, and just before Thanksgiving I agreed to help my dad put up Christmas decorations. My dad loves Christmas, like, a LOT. In some ways the inside of the house is always decorated for that time of year since he has like four gazillion collector, Department 51–or is that Department 56? I suppose I’m confusing it with Area 51, which is not exactly the same thing–houses all over the place, most of them sitting on that fake, foam, rollout, snow stuff. They drive my mom nuts, though secretly I think she kind of likes them. Don’t tell her I said that by the way.
Anyway, so my mom went to get her hair done that morning, it must have been a Wednesday I reckon, so my dad and I took the time to start putting up the fake, plastic, Christmas tree in their sun-porch. I hate plastic Christmas trees, but my dad gave in years ago and started buying them. Anyway, as we were putting it up the top section broke right where it slips together. The plastic broke, of course, because it’s crappy plastic from Taiwan or some place that doesn’t even celebrate Christmas.
So we decided to fix the tree, instead of tossing it. We’re men. We’re cheap by nature. “Suuuure, no problem! Just put some duct tape on it, or some bailin’ wyer’—that’s bailing wire, for you non-Southerners—It’ll be good as new!” So we went to the garage, and found no wyer, or wire, to fix it with.
Now, my father is a grandpa, so my obvious question to him was, “Dad, why do you not have tons of wyer and crap hanging all over your garage like your dad used to have? You’re not holding up the time-honored traditions of grandfather-hood!” Both of us knew very well why he didn’t have any: my mother. Mom has an extreme aversion to clutter, or mess, as she calls it. I have more or less inherited that attitude from her, though I sometimes fall short of the mark.
Anyway, my dad and I rushed out to the store to buy some bailing wire so we could fix the tree before my mom returned to stop us.
The reason we were in a hurry has to do with 1975.
Yes, I know, that was a rather abrupt segue, but we’re now in the 70s, the glorious era of disco and bellbottoms. My dad had gone to pick out the Bivans Family Christmas Tree without my mother’s help and wisdom, and came home with the Charlie Brown version. To be fair, it looked more Christmas Tree-y than Chuck’s did, until you put a string of lights on it. That’s when the problem became apparent. Every limb on that pitiful tree drooped to the floor under the enormous weight of 1970s, hot and heavy Christmas lights. I’m not exaggerating, trust me.
My mom went into a critical frenzy on the tree, my dad’s ability to choose trees, “Why do we need one anyway?”, “I can’t believe you couldn’t find a better tree than that…” You might as well have added, “You’re such a blockhead, Charlie Brown” to the end of that, though to be fair, she didn’t say that. Not exactly. It was certainly implied.
To all this my dad, the eternal optimist, just said, “Oh, no problem, I can just wyer the branches up and it’ll be like new!” like Linus and his magic blanket. And he did. He proceeded, much to my mother’s consternation and verbal critique, to wyer every single branch of that tree to the trunk. It was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever seen, and maybe the best thing my father ever did because it has provided us with an annual belly laugh ever since.
Not ONE Christmas has gone by that we haven’t talked about that tree from 1975 and laughed till we cried. I long since moved away, started my own family, put up 30 plus trees of my own, but I never look at one without thinking about that wyer’d up tree from 1975.
Back to 2012…
So Dad and I rushed back home, to wyer up the plastic tree in the sun porch, hopefully before the boss returned from the beauty parlour. We pulled up to the house, and her van was in the driveway. Damn! Well, that’s what I thought. My dad doesn’t curse, well, not exactly. He says, ‘Shoot!’ when the rest of us would just change the vowel to express the same sentiment and he may well have said it when he saw that van. I’m pretty sure he was thinking it. He looked at me, and said, “Put that wyer in your pocket. Maybe she won’t see the tree until after we’ve had a chance to fix it?” There was a question mark on the end of that statement. That’s because my mother sees EVERYTHING!
I just looked at him with the really? face. You know the one. REEEally? But I had no choice at this point but to hope she had walked through the sun porch, right past the tree and not seen the top hanging over like a chicken with its head partially cut off. Suuure. Once more into the breech as they say. So as we pulled up the long driveway I noticed that mom was sitting on her sun porch—it’s her favorite spot, indeed, the reason she bought the house to start with—and she was staring at the chicken, I mean tree.
Great. So here we come, dad and I, quietly sneaking in the door, right in front of her, waiting for the hammer to fall.
Here’s how the conversation went—inquisition would be more accurate:
Mom: “Where have y’all been?” In a tone that suggested she had already surmised the answer.
Dad, “Oh, (pause), up to the store to get a few things.”
Mom, “Like what?” At this point, I knew she knew. She was just toying with us. It was uncomfortable. Kind of like what Mary, Queen of Scots must have felt like with her neck on the block, or a mouse backed into a corner by our cat, Squishy Kitty—she’s a real killer.
Dad said, “Just a couple things from the Dollar Tree,” —we were in a hurry so we didn’t go all the way to Lowe’s hardware.
“You bought some wyer didn’t you!?” Silence and a pause.
“Well, if you think, you’re gonna wyer that tree back together you best just DRAG IT TO THE STREET RIGHT NOW! I don’t know why you even thought about it!” She got up and walked into the kitchen, much like The Duke, John Wayne, used to do in his movies when he would throw down his half-smoked cigarette and walk away with a parting shot. Translation, “The conversation is OVER!!”
She left my dad and I looking back and forth at each other with the look of two idiots who’ve been shot between the eyes but haven’t bothered to fall down dead yet. Then we got out the wyer and tried to fix the tree. Well, we couldn’t let mom win! Though admittedly, I’d known it was a fool thing to try to begin with, but if it worked in 1975, surely it would work now!
It did not. So we quietly admitted defeat and dragged it to the street.
So the lesson is, if it’s useless, worthless, or just cluttering up your Hobbit-hole, follow Mama Bivans’s advice. JUST DRAG IT TO THE STREET RIGHT NOW! Or you can reuse, recycle, or pass it along, unless it’s a headless chicken, Christmas tree. If you don’t, I’ll send mom over to tell you in person, and you don’t want that!
MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS HOBBITS!