Monday, December 21, 2015

Festive Front Lines



 
          To my knowledge, no one in my side of the family has owned a gun. Oh, except that relative purported to be the first white woman in the Oklahoma territory, and who was known to tuck a pistol in her garter.
And yet in spite of the fact that we’ve never had to deal with inter-family dramas or personality disorders, our Christmases have had a slightly bellicose theme over the years.


          In our first years of marriage, our Christmas trees usually came from the less pricey, and thus shorter, section of the lot. We’d merrily strap our choice to the roof of our VW bus and take it home, only to realize that our eight year-old was tall enough to put the star on top. So for one more year, out would come the empty ammo cans that we’d liberated when my husband left the army. An artistically draped sheet and there sat our tree, covered in happy angels and ornaments wishing peace to the world. 


          Spouse and I were decorating the tree last night, and after the last glass bird was clipped to its branch, I said, “Where are the army men? We need to get them out.” He assured me that he knew right where they were. Once the grandsons arrived, he’d order ask one of them to march to go to the toy section in the basement and bring them up. Like most traditions, I have no idea when this began, but every year when the boys arrive for Christmas, they rush to the living room and start setting up bivouacs under the tree and ambushes in its branches.


          I must have caught the fever, because the one thing that carried me through the hours of present wrapping was listening to a book as I worked: Bernard Cornwell’s Harlequin. Instead of enduring saccharine renditions of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”, I was following the adventures of archer Thomas of Hookton. I’d lovingly wrap socks for my daughter while Norman raiders pillaged and burned Thomas’ village.  I’d tie a ribbon around cozy jammies for the middle grandson as besieged Bretons poured boiling oil over the rampaging English. 


          But maybe there is a connection. I know that by the end of
the holidays many of us feel a bit like the French after that pesky 100 Years War.


13 comments:

  1. Have a wonderful Christmas out there on the front lines, Marty! :-0

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    1. Thank you, DJan. I hope the season treats you well, too.

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  2. Guns are tools and need to be used wisely. War is endless it seems. And now if our own crazy citizens do not kill us, we will face a global war.

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    1. It's times like these I'm glad I have more days behind me than in front.

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  3. when I was a kid, going to get the christmas tree was one of the highlights. trees would be set up all over the lot like a forest. we'd have to examine every one looking for the perfect tree, one without holes or weird branches or bent at odd angles. nowadays, it doesn't matter which tree you select as they are all exactly the same, shaped and manicured into the 'perfect' cone shape with unruly branches cut off bluntly to make them conform. ruined, if you ask me.

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    1. And eliminating all the fun of the hunt.

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  4. I'm a big Bernard Cornwall fan and I'll bet he's a lot better to listen to while wrapping presents than some of the schmaltz I was listening to.

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    1. I'm really enjoying it. I rarely listen to books; I like to see the words in front of me. Still, the actor performing it is so good it's like TV in my head.

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  5. One year my partner hired The Texas Chain Store Massacre as an antidote to Christmas schmaltz. Some years family is enough of an antidote.
    I hope your bellicosities are jovial.

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  6. My grandfather and then my uncle always set up a train under and around the tree. As an adult I was so grateful not to be reaching over engines and coal tenders to reach a gift. You all have a good Christmas and great holidays.

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  7. We are exhausted at the end of the holiday but can look back at how good it was.

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  8. Lovely that you have traditions to follow year after year.
    Poor Santa looks all tuckered out there.

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  9. Well, it IS a battle of sorts! But most of us don't take it quite so literally. :)

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