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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Beacon

Beacon: (n) a fire or light set up in a high or prominent position as a warning, signal, or celebration.Dictionary B

Flashing lights.

No one likes them.

I suppose they’re okay on a Christmas tree. But if you’re in a room for a long time and the decorations are too garish, it can become annoying.

We were taught that flashing lights warn us of danger or at least, pending inconvenience. So I guess we need them.

Yet by the same token, a world without flashing lights is a sudden discovery of disaster without any way to prepare or avoid it.

Therefore a beacon can be one of the more unappreciated necessities in the world. They appear in our lives at a very early age.

For instance, you’re five years old. The first snow has fallen and you want to run outside and play–throw it in the air and maybe make a snow man.

You are stopped.

A beacon–your mother or your father–steps in and feels the need to take at least ten minutes of your precious snow time to don you in garbs which inhibit your free movement, all because they want you to be warm and not get sick.

Who knows if they’re right?

It isn’t like you can look back and say, “Yeah, because I wore my ear muffs and toboggan, I avoided a cold.”

No, it’s just an annoying flashing.

And then, when you become a parent and find the need to “beacon out” some piece of wisdom or counsel, you suddenly realize that you are the annoying, flicking going on in the life of a child who loved you moments earlier, until you interrupted the flow.

Case in point: I just finished seeing family for Christmas. One of my jobs is to be a beacon.

That means if I see something that could be ridiculous, dangerous or lead to unhappy conclusions, it falls my lot to flash out a warning.

God, it’s horrible.

For you see, everybody wants to be a cheerleader and not the director of the cheerleaders, who has to decide whether the skirts are too short.

Yet a world without beacons would probably end up being one big explosion of light, producing destruction instead of intermittent blinking.

 

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

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Afield

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Afield: (adv.) to or at a distance: e.g. competitors from as far afield as Hong Kong.

I often think about jobs that would be much more difficult than what presently encompasses my time. I do this to manufacture a sense of gratitude in my fussy being when I find myself complacent, or even complaining, about my circumstances.

It doesn’t take me long to envision particular undertakings which would be quite distasteful to my being. Don’t mistake my meaning. I’m not saying these pursuits are not important, valuable or even admirable–just beyond my ability and willingness.

  • I would not like to dig ditches.

Even though I can see that progress is observed through the action, continually sticking a shovel in the ground to displace dirt to another location would not only exhaust me but also stimulate my claustrophobia as I found myself surrounded by an earthen prison.

  • I don’t think I’d like to work in food service.

When I go into a restaurant or fast food joint, I am so grateful for those who pursue this occupation. Yet remembering orders, scurrying about, fielding complaints and settling for a less-than-satisfying wage would probably turn me into the Grinch who massacred everyone around the Christmas tree.

You can see, I have a number of these, and at the end of my reflection I always have a spring in my step as I renew my journey and vocation. Today I will add another one to the list:

  • I would not want to be the agent for the word “afield.”

I could never muster the conviction to convince folks to be that hoity-toity in their language, nor would I even consider that such an option would be positive.

After all, what’s wrong with saying, “competitors from as far away as Hong Kong …?”

You see what I mean? When you’re trying to impress someone with verbiage that is meant to alienate others, you are stimulating the kind of stupidity that keeps us all at odds. No, I would not want to be the agent to promote the word “afield.”

I would rather dig a ditch.