Our Christmas tree just came down. The whole place looks bare without it. Some of you may be tut-tutting the fact that the tree blazed for so long here in our home. People can be quite fanatical about these things. I've been told, with great certainty, that the tree and all decorations must be down by New Years. I've also been told, with equal zeal, that it must be gone by Epiphany, kings come, tree goes. I always wonder who wrote the rules and by what authority do they assume to regulate the behaviour of others.
For Joe and I, being adults simply means living our entire lives like our parents are away for the weekend. Regular rules don't apply. I mean, after all, our whole relationship started in defiance of social custom. If you are going to 'burn in hell' for kissing a boy, what difference does the date make that the tree gets put away. But, I digress just for the fun of it. The reason the tree was up for so long was because Mike, Marissa, Ruby and Sadie called to say that they were going to stop by for a visit. We decided, because we have a pretty unusual tree, to leave it up for the kids to see.
One of the things that makes our tree wonderful is that we have strings of lighted ornaments that veer from beautiful to bizarre. We have a light string of teddy bears with Santa hats, a string of Betty Boops, a string of wooden birdhouses, a string of various vegetables and, of course, a string of fruits. We have Christmas ornaments that we've bought in castles in the UK and craft stands on the beach in California. No two ornaments are the same. Its a riot of diversity. A wonder to behold.
Ruby came in and stopped. She stared at the tree. She'd just woken up having fallen asleep in the car after sledding with her cousins. Her face had the warm flush that kids get when just waking. After a second of seeing all that the tree had to offer she said, 'You have a carrot on your tree.' We looked at the mass of colour and found the one lighted carrot on it's string of vegetables. She didn't see the crown, or the reindeer, or the mouse in an evening gown ... no, she spotted the carrot. OK. Well, the carrot is really kind of cool.
She's an easy girl to make laugh and I taught her the recipe for 'booger grapes' and it so delighted her that she did it over and over again and laughed every single time. I ended up with a gut full of grapes and god knows what else. After making another batch of booger grapes and laughing she said to me, in a sudden burst of seriousness, 'You're funny.' I thanked her. She still stared at me with intensity, 'Are all people in wheelchairs funny?'
I was tempted to say, 'Yeah, you betcha!' But, I'm careful about lying to kids and said instead, 'Well, all fat guys with no hair who are named Dave and ride in wheelchairs are funny.'
She looked at me and asked, 'Are there a lot of those?'
I said, 'No, just me.'
And my reward for being honest, a fresh made booger grape.