Posted by: Nazausgraben | December 17, 2020

THE CHRISTMAS TREE STAND


Author unknown but embellished somewhat (id est, alot) by your humble BLOG host.

While cleaning up the attic – a few weeks before Christmas – Father discovered a very dusty, old Christmas tree stand in a corner. It was a special stand with a rotating mechanism and a built-in music box. When the tree was turning, you could hear the Christmas Carol “O du fröhliche” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWkbIOtu8WU ). It had to be the Christmas tree stand that Grandmother always used to speak of when Christmas time was approaching.

The thing looked terrible, but then a wonderful thought occurred to Dad. Could one imagine how happy grandmother would be if she sat in front of the tree on Christmas Eve and it suddenly began to turn like in former days and even played “O du fröhliche “? Not just grandmother, but the whole family would be absolutely amazed.

Father was convinced that if it was thoroughly cleaned and a new spring drive installed, the stand rotating mechanism should work again. Thus, during many an evening thereafter, Father mysteriously retreated to his basement hobby room, locked the door and worked on repairing the stand. He only answered “Christmas surprise” to curious questions. He had finally completed the repairs just short of Christmas Eve. With abit of paint added to the cleaning and repairs, the stand looked good as new.

Now I must find us a magnificent Christmas tree, he thought. It should measure at least two meters high. Having purchased a glorious specimen, Father quickly returned home and immediately disappeared into his hobby room. It was time to conduct a trial run on the newly repaired stand.

Wonderful! Everything worked perfectly! Father could not wait to see the look in Grandmother’s eyes!

It was Christmas Eve at last. “I’ll decorate the tree alone,” said Father. He hadn’t been that excited for a long time. He made especially certain to use real candles amongst his decorations; everything had to be just right.

“They won’t believe their eyes when they see this,” he said to himself. Father had really thought of everything. The star of Bethlehem sat at the top, colorful balls, sweets and sparklers were in-place, angel hair and tinsel hung decoratively. The celebration could now begin.

Outside the sun had set and night had descended on this cold snowy perfect Christmas Eve. In the comforting warmth of their home, the family was soon going to partake of their traditional Christmas evening meal and then head off to Midnight Mass at St. Ulrich’s.

But first, it was time; Father was now ready to set the scene for his grand surprise. He dragged grandmother’s huge plush wing chair from in front of the television. Grandma was then solemnly escorted into the living room and guided to her seat, her place of honor, directly in front of the majestic fir tree.

Father then grouped chairs for the rest of the family…Mother and us kids… in a semicircle abut the magnificent work of mechanized art. Mother and father sat to the right and left respectively of grandmother, we children took our seats behind.  We all waited in exploding anticipation, almost forgetting to breathe for fear of missing something quite spectacular.

Now father’s grand entrance came. Slowly he lit candle after candle, then the sparklers. “And now comes the big surprise”, he announced as he released the lock on the tree stand and quickly took his place.

The Christmas tree slowly turned, the music “O du fröhliche” played in a melodic slow tempo 60. It was a pleasure! We children happily clapped our hands. Grandma had tears of emotion in her eyes. Again and again she said: “O, if only grandfather were still here to see this.” Mother was struck silent with amazement.

For a while the family looked on with quiet joy at this most festive and indescribably beautiful Christmas tree slowly turning about in its festive attire. This balsam for the soul was suddenly ripped asunder as a snarling screeching sound rang out from the tree stand. A tremor ran throughout the tree, the colored balls swayed and lightly struck each other, clinking like plastic bells.

The tree started spinning like crazy, faster and faster. The metal roller sporting embedded pins that, when struck by a tiny metal rod, made the music tones likewise rotated in synchrony with the tree. O du Fröhliche’s pitch increasing with each orbit of the tree.

Mother yelled out: “So….do something!!!!” Father was dumbstruck and sat in-place absolutely petrified, which, of course, did nothing to stop the tree from its ever increasing rate of rotation. The tree was now whirling about so rapidly that the flames alight on the candles were blown out. Grandmother crossed herself and prayed. Then she murmured: “”If only grandfather were still here to see this.”

Next the star of Bethlehem atop the tree detached itself, whizzed through the room like a comet, slapped the door frame and then fell on Felix, the dachshund, who was taking a nap there. The poor dog whipped out of the room into the kitchen, as if stung by a tarantula. All we could thereafter see of Felix was his nose and one eye squinting around the corner.

Tinsel and angel hair had taken to flight, flapping, flailing and, having attained escape velocity, launching from midst the growing calamity. A large clump of the silver foil strips now covered poor Felix and he disappeared entirely to a place of safety somewhere in the basement.

Father finally came to his wits and, as if leading a doomed battalion, gave the command, “EVERYBODY TAKE COVER!!!” With this, all chaos broke loose from the centrifugal green wonder. A seemingly intoxicated golden angel spun around the room, not knowing what to do with its sudden freedom. Christmas balls, decorations filled with chocolate, a small plastic moose Father brought back from Anchorage and a stained glass portrait of Abraham Lincoln, along with a host of other now deadly unidentified flying objects shot from the recesses of the weaponized fir, whipping through the room like bullets and bursting apart when the struck a wall, a piece of furniture or those of us unfortunates in the way who were slow to take cover (that means mostly poor Grandma) and neglected to bring military-grade protective gear to this event .

We children were quick and had found adequate shelter behind grandmother’s wide-back armchair. Father and mother lay flat on their stomachs, protecting their heads with their arms. Mother whined into the carpet: “All in vain, all that work, all in vain!”

Father was, to say the least, very embarrassed. He attempted to exhibit a brave face, but we could see his lips quivering slighty at the corners of his mouth. The left eyelid tic that he had thought long ago cured was also beginning to return.

Grandma was still in her plush box seat, frozen, adorned with angel hair and tinsel from top to bottom. All she could do was recall how her own Grandfather had told her stories about the many harrowing times from 1914-1918 when he had come under enemy artillery fire in the Ardennes. It must have been exactly like that now. When alcohol-filled chocolate tree decorations exploded on her head, Grandma only mumbled, “If only grandfather were still here to see this!” The metal music player howled out a demented 6th chord sounding like nothing from “O du fröhliche”, and with a sound akin to two docking cruise ships colliding in port, gave up the ghost with a groaning melancholy.

The mechanism rotating the now naked fir almost simultaneously flew to pieces, abruptly braking the out of control rotations. Due to its most sudden coming to a halt, the Christmas tree tilted over as if in slow motion, falling smack on the cold Christmas buffet prepared with great love and unending work by Mother, releasing the last of its billion knife-edged needles into the salmon salad, the roast beef gravy laced with copious amounts of Port, the Crème brûlée dessert that had taken hours to prepare and tipping over Father’s last bottle of Mouton Rothschild 1939; a bit of war booty he brought back from Paris in 1945.

Dead silence!

After what seemed like an eternity, Grandmother, now decorated like a New York confetti parade, rose silently. Shaking her head, she went to her room, dragging with her a tinsel garland akin to a royal robe train. Pausing in the doorway, she turned slightly toward us survivors still in the living room now looking like the aftermath of a mighty battle, and quietly said into the dark and to no one in particular, “How good that grandfather was not here to see this.”

Mother, turned completely distraught to Father and said: “Look at this mess. Thanks for the great surprise.” She wandered off toward the kitchen to see if she could salvage anything from the Christmas feast that was never to be that day. I came up to Father, tugged on his torn shirt sleeve and with the biggest smile I could muster, said, “Daddy, that was SO COOL!!!! Can we do this again every year at Christmas?”


Responses

  1. My Dear Friend…

    So be it the protagonist of your story and his exploding Christmas tree or Clark Griswold yelling “SQUIRL!!” at the top of his lungs, Christmas is never easy for the paternal members of the family! As Clark’s Dad told him, it’s always better with the help of your friend Jack…Daniels!

    Happy Christmas and best for 2021 to you and Susi and may the world get back to what we laughingly describe as normal!!

    Frank

  2. A fun story 🙂 Our best to you and Susi!! Don


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