Christmas Tree

Christmas tree: (n) a decorated tree at Yuletide

“If you want a tree, go get it yourself.”

That’s what my dad said when I was fourteen years old and asked him why we had not put up our tree as of yet, at Christmastime.

Normally the practice was to pick a tree and decorate it on my birthday–one week before Christmas. But for some reason, December 20th had rolled around and nobody had even mentioned getting one.

I was offended, disrupted, angry, bewildered, uncertain, out-of-spirits and generally and profoundly rebellious, in the most adolescent way possible.

So I complained. That’s what I knew how to do.

Since I had asked at least a half a dozen times about the tree, I felt it was time for me to object. he option provided for me by my dad was to go get a tree myself.

This was plausible because our family owned a little farm outside the town, where we grew some Christmas trees. So I had my brother drive me out to the location, grabbed a little hatchet and headed off through the snowy ground to bag myself an evergreen.

With my chubby legs and being severely out of shape, I was completely exhausted from the walk to the pines–ready to give up on my mission. After all, it wasn’t my fault. I was not in charge. If the damn family didn’t want a tree, then we should be treeless.

But the problem was, that included me–and I didn’t want to be treeless.

So braving the cold, little hatchet in hand, I found what I thought would be a good tree and began to whack at the trunk.

My hatchet had obviously been purchased by Davy Crockett when he went to the Alamo and not sharpened since. The first three strikes at the tree trunk didn’t even split the bark. So as not to bore you, I will shorten this story by telling you that an hour later, sweat pouring off my face, I finally got the tree to give up its roots and prepare to move to my home.

The trunk was an absolute mess. It was not a cut, but rather a massacre. But I drug it out, my brother and I put it on top of the car, and we drove it to the house. He kindly helped me saw the bottom off to make it even so we could put it into the Christmas tree stand. To add insult to my effort, it ended up being too tall. We had to cut off part of the top.

But eventually it sat in our living room, waiting to be adorned.

That evening when my father returned from working at his loan company, he stepped into the house, looked at the tree, and said to me, “Is that the best tree you could get?”

I didn’t respond to him directly, but in my mind I thought, “Yes. It’s the best tree I could get. Because this year it’s my tree.”



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Bowie Knife

Bowie knife: (n) a long knife with a blade double-edged at the point.

His name was Jim Bowie.Dictionary B

If he lived in your town, you would look at him as the guy who doesn’t have a job–always working a scheme, and you certainly wouldn’t want him dating your sister.

He probably wouldn’t even have made the pages of history had he not ended up in a little mission in San Antonio, Texas, called the Alamo. He arrived there defeated, rejected, running from the law and sick as a dog.

He was known for the big intimidating knife he carried–gaining a reputation by some lethal use.

Jim was with a bunch of other misfits who decided to make a stand in a poorly defended and somewhat meaningless piece of property. History has deemed this to be brave, but if you take a close look, it was just a bunch of macho stupidity. They could easily have fallen back, joined Sam Houston and been part of the victory instead of finding themselves burned up on a mass grave.

Sometimes I don’t know why Americans think that doing “bold maneuvers” is the definition of patriotic manliness. Discretion is not only the better part of valor, but it also enables you to do more things in life … so you’re known for something other than dying and carrying a big, bad-ass knife.


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Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A


Alamo: (the Alamo) a mission in San Antonio, Texas, site of a siege in 1836 by Mexican forces in which all 180 defenders were killed.

Reality, think and hope.

These are the three elements that go into telling the story of history. Nowhere is this any more evident than in the tale of the Alamo.

Our great hope is that 180 human souls gave their lives for freedom, making a last-ditch stand against the tyranny of Santa Ana.

We think we understand their motivations–and we also have thoughts that perhaps things could have been handled better so that such a death toll was unnecessary.

Rarely do we arrive at reality.

The truth of the matter is, the “big three” of the Alamo–Travis, Bowie and Crockett–were at the end of their careers and escaped to Texas to start over again–or perhaps, end it all. They had failed relationships, diminishing careers, and a bit of mischief and malfeasance trailing them.

They arrived together in a little mission right between the army of Mexico and an ever-growing infantry of settlers and frontiersmen under the leadership of Sam Houston.

Actually,  it was completely unnecessary to defend the Alamo.

  • We hope that they were buying time for Sam Houston to build up an army to defeat Santa Ana.
  • We think that was on their minds.
  • But in reality, we don’t know.

For after all, when the Alamo was taken over and all occupants killed, Sam Houston intelligently scooted away, avoiding his enemy, until he could choose just the right time–when they were exhausted and he had the best ground.

General Houston finished them off in no time at all, without losing many troops.

So what happened at the Alamo is a typical piece of American history. It had some nobility, some ulterior motives and certainly … a bit of stupidity.