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The Memory Tree

“Hallmark” has been running ads about their Christmas ornaments, and the memories that are inevitably tied to them.  The kids go up to the attic to get the ornaments and start unpacking them as they remember what major life event happened when they brought that particular ornament home.  Our tree is just that, a memory tree.  For a time we bought a Christmas tree ornament every year, sometimes two or three.  Our collection of memories numbers in the hundreds now, and it’s getting harder to find branches on the tree to exhibit them, but we do.  And our tree rotates so it’s a full 360 degree canvas, floor to ceiling.  We’re big into little Christmas mice, Santa Claus, and those ornaments made over the years by the kids.  They are so proud of them, and you can’t help but remember their smiling little faces when they gave them to you.  Then they get to admire it in its special place on the tree every year after.

This one is from Brandi.  Her smiling face is right there to see every December when she was just seven years old.  A snapshot of how she looked the day she gave it to her mother after making it in school.

I have other favorites on our tree.  I put a few pictures of them here with some selfishness.  I wanted to share them, and I think our tree rivals any tree on “Hallmark,” but done for the same reason.  I can’t remember now where and when we got a lot of them, but my wife will remind me, and sometimes I’ll remind her.  Christmas memories flood back.  Little vignettes from 1991 or 2003 and even 1960.

Here’s a little church mouse in bed, with visions of cheddar cheese in his head, waiting for Santa.  The name on the end of the bed is “Sven,” a nickname I got from a co-worker when I was a collection manager with Citicorp Credit Services.  I remember getting the ornament, I remember who gave it to me, and I can still see me sitting at my desk laughing about the hand-made sign glued to the bed.

Who doesn’t like scrabble.  Check out the size of the letter tiles on this game board.

This next Christmas ornament we got in Virginia City, NV, one summer when we took a trip up there.  I went to visit the Mark Twain museum.  Samuel Clemens worked for the “Territorial Enterprise” newspaper for a time and it was here he first used his famous pen name.  He had come to Virginia City to  join his brother in search of their fortune in silver mining.  They didn’t find it.  And it was summer.  They have a Christmas Shop there that is open all year.  It’s literally walking into Christmas in July. 

The next ornaments, I just like.  I can’t remember when or where we got them, like I said, but check them out. 


There are hundreds of others, slowly rotating in display on our tree.  Some are milestones like the one on the right.  Some just point out who this tree belongs to like this one on the left.

Every year, my wife carefully unpacks the ornaments one by one and decorates the tree.  My responsiblity is to get the tree put up.  I pulled my back doing it one year.  It’s a pretty heavy tree assembled in four sections.  Maybe only God can make a tree, but I can put one together pretty well I think.  And yes, its artificial and pre-lit and hard to tell from the real thing in my opinion.    No needles to vacuum up, no worry about the dogs drinking the water, no price-gouging, no fire-hazard, but no pine smell either.  We remedy that with pine scents.  They make some pine icicles you can hang on your artificial tree now and it smells almost like the real thing.  Almost.  Besides, I believe pine trees belong in the forest.

Well, I hope I didn’t bore you with my christmas ornaments.  I have hundreds more if you want to see them.  WTF. 


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Good One.

I started the day with a text message from my 36-year-old daughter.  Married, mother of two.

“F*** I’m pregnant,”  it blared.

My response:  “Excuse me!?”  It was all I could think of to say in my state of shock.  I’m thinking to myself that she surely is not that devoid of common sense not to be using birth control.

Her next two responses were rapid fire.  “What am I going to do?”  “I’ll be 60 when it graduates.”

Aha.  “Okay smart ass!  Good one.  Fell for it.”

April 1, 2001. Good one. A subway train in Denmark that supposedly jumped the tracks and crashed up through the sidewalk.

I hate April Fool’s Day.  I hate it because I’m gullible.  It’s tattooed on my forehead.  Easy mark.  I know what day it is.  I’m expecting these little “humorous” lies.  Accordingly, you can tell any lie you want on April 1st just by ending it with “April Fool’s.”  I hate it.

I remember once in high school, we turned our entire Civics classroom backwards, desks, chairs, pictures, bookcases, right down to the stapler and the tape dispenser.  Our teacher was a neatnik.  Not really OCD, but things were in a certain place, neatly.

He laughed when he walked in and we were all facing the back wall.  He laughed as he turned his desk and chair around.  As he lectured he would discover another thing backwards and fix it as he talked.  He would be moving things around on his desk.  We, all chuckling with each new discovery.  Then the coup de grâce, he went for a book in the bookcase by his desk, which, of course was turned facing the wall, without looking.  He almost broke his hand.  We laughed hysterically.  “Good one,” he said.  Our Civics teacher was a good sport.

One thing you really shouldn’t do if April 1st falls on a Friday, if you’re a boss, is call a “gullible” employee into your office at 3:00 in the afternoon.  It happened to me on April 1, 1977.  Notice how I know the exact date.  I got the phone call and my heart stopped.  Everybody knows you get bad news on Friday at 3:00 in your supervisor’s office.

“I hate to tell you this,” she said, “but we’re going to have to let you go.”

I got up out the chair and said, “Good one,” and walked back to my desk.

She followed me.  “No really, we have to cut back on staff and….”  I turned around and looked at her, suffering a small stroke I think, and you could see the edges of her mouth just starting to curl up into a smile.  I still wasn’t sure if she was smiling because she was getting to fire me, or if it was a “good one.”

One of my favorite April Fool’s jokes was done by Burger King in 1998.  They ran a full-page ad in “USA Today” announcing the “Left-Handed Whopper.”  A specially designed burger for the 32-million left-handed Americans.  The advertisement claimed that all the ingredients were the same as the regular “Whopper,” but shifted 180 degrees to accommodate the left-handed.  Burger King claimed that thousands of customers came into their restaurants requesting the “Left-Handed Whopper,” and others wanting their own right-handed version.  Good one.

And as hoax’s go, Mark Twain, wrote a very short piece in the “Territorial Enterprise” in 1862, the local newspaper for Virginia City, Nevada, where he worked for a time.  In the article he claimed that a perfectly preserved petrified man had been found in a cave in the vicinity and he described in some obscure details the location.  The locals should have known it was a hoax and that the cave he described didn’t exist, but many believed it and went searching for the fossil.  It spread for months and ended up in newspapers worldwide.  An expedition was being formed to search for the fossil when it was finally revealed as hoax.  (That was actually published in October, but still makes a good April Fool’s joke.)  

So I caution you, be a little kind on this day of “lies” because, as W. C. Fields famously said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  By the way, she didn’t fire me.  She thought it was hilarious.  I didn’t.  WTF

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