I spent most summers, school vacations and weekends at my grandmother’s when I was going up.  Planning for Christmas would take place all year.  Besides the boxes upon boxes of 40 year old paper ring garland my uncle, aunt and mother made when in gradeschool, she collected all types of odd, bird-like, rare, whitetrash ornaments.  Towards the end, a normal tree just couldn’t hold it all.  During the summer months, she would be on the constant lookout at rummage sales for artificial trees.  She loved buying them.  One year, she went and purchased a large wooden “dowel” type shaft.  She was going to put all of her trees together.  Grandma started drilling holes as she needed them, inserting limbs as she went.  There were “flocked” and non-flocked branches.  When she was done, the tree was so heavy and lopsided, the metal bases kept bending.  There was no way that would stop her.  She drilled some screws into the shaft and strategically around the two nearest walls.  She then ran wire from the tree to the walls securing it in place.  Hence the story of the FrankenTree was born.  It was lush and poky… like a giant cactus bush.

When I was a kid, I knew that the Easter bunny and Santa were real.  Not because people would leave little bunny foot prints outside or have me leave magical reindeer food.  No… Papa would take down his rifle, shout to Grandma asking, “Alice, where’re those traps?  I’m gonna catch that damn rabbit this year!” or “I can’t stand trespassers… that old, fat guy comes around here with his sleigh and those deer shitting on my roof, I’m blowing a hole in him!” 

As I look at my kids, I only hope I’m able to leave them with the same, or greater, memories.

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