I’m a Christmas tree junkie.
While Christmas tree shopping in early December 2017, I chanced upon a 7-foot Fraser fir for $29, thinking, “this can’t be right”. I began a thorough search for the tree’s imperfections - which yielded none. Perfectly shaped with an aroma reminiscent of a trek through the Wisconsin Northwoods, I knew my search had ended as quickly as it began and the Christmas season was off to very good start indeed!
Within an hour, the tree is standing in my living room, ready to be decorated the next day. It’s December 6 and I’m way ahead of the game. Now, a few years back a friend mentioned a tradition whereby people name their Christmas tree in honor of a favorite celebrity who passed away that year. Wonderful idea! So, in 2015 I named my tree “Maureen”, after Maureen O’Hara. In 2016, I named my tree “Ricci-Earl”, after Ricci Martin (entertainer Dean Martin’s youngest son), and writer/producer Earl Hamner, Jr. (creator of the television series, THE WALTONS). I was friends with both gentlemen in California and was deeply affected by their passing.
The decision for this year’s name was a no-brainer – “James-Franklin”, in honor of my father, James, who passed away in March, and his childhood friend, Frank, who followed Dad six months later.
December 8. Now decorated and settling nicely into its new surroundings, James-Franklin is sucking four cups of water a day throughout the holidays with no end in sight. Two cups of water before work and two cups of water before bed. It doesn’t hurt that I keep my thermostat set at 53 degrees either. Christmas arrives and not a creature was stirring – except James-Franklin, who’s the star of the show. Merry Christmas to all!
January 6. The Epiphany. This is the traditional end of the Christmas holiday for Western Christians and my excuse for keeping James-Franklin up a bit longer than usual. It’s only 12 days after Christmas…you recall the song, don’t you?
February 2. Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil says six more weeks of winter. That works to my advantage. 4 more cups of water for James-Franklin, please!
February 4. Super Bowl. I have no team in this fight. James-Franklin is rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles. And the Eagles win!
February 14. Valentine’s Day. My valentine is James-Franklin. I got him water.
March 17. St. Patrick’s Day. “Ohhh, Jimmy boy (and Frank too), your pipes, your pipes are ca-a-alling.” I mean “needles”…your needles are calling – for more water. People are looking at me strangely and whispering behind my back. So what’s new? I toss some shamrocks on the tree and toast Maureen O’Hara from two years back while listening to The Chieftains. Sláinte!
April 1. Easter. EASTER!? How can that be? Have I totally gone off my rocker? Hey… James-Franklin is barely shedding needles so if you wanna look at someone strangely, folks, look at him. I’ve never been a fan of Easter decorations so I take down the shamrocks and leave it at that. WAIT! It’s also April Fools’ Day and my Christmas tree is still up. April fool! Not!
April 22. Earth Day & April 27. Arbor Day. This goes without saying. What also goes without saying is my father would think I’m an idiot.
May 13. Mother’s Day. Mom misses Dad and says she’s OK with me keeping James-Franklin around a little while longer. She then turns and snickers to one of her girlfriends.
May 18 – 21. Annual Spring Walleye fishing trip. First time I’ve left James-Franklin alone for four days. Wishing I could bring him with – Dad was an integral part of our fishing trips for over 30 years. But if I come walking into the cabin with a Christmas tree, my brother, uncle and the rest of the guys will use me as fish bait. No playing with matches when I’m gone, James-Franklin!
Friday, May 25. Three days until Memorial Day. 5 months and 19 days since James-Franklin first adorned my home. And, believe it or not, he’s still drinking four cups of water a day. Perhaps it’s time to let go?
After much deliberation, I carefully maneuver James-Franklin out the back door (watch the needles on the carpet, JF!) Wait a second…what am I doing? James-Franklin has miraculously survived for this long indoors so what’s to stop him from thriving in the outdoors? Brother Jason says, “Plant it!” I run for a shovel, dig a hole in the garden and set James-Franklin into the ground. After a healthy watering, I give James-Franklin the once-over. There’s still some green in that there tree and as long as there’s green – there’s a chance.
I know…the odds James-Franklin survives are zero. On the other hand, who on this big blue marble would’ve thought a Christmas tree could last this long? Was it because it was a Fraser fir? Or did naming it after my father have something to do with it? Tell you the truth, it doesn’t matter. Miracles come in all sorts of packages. Mine came in a 7-foot Fraser fir named “James-Franklin” and I doubt they’ll be another like him.
Hmmm…how ‘bout a 4th of July Christmas tree in 2018?