My paternal grandmother’s trees were a family joke. Whereas most people prefer a tall and stately fir, she specialized in picking out the fattest, fluffiest, roundest scotch pines she could find, giant balls of green that took up half her tiny apartment living room. One year she had one that was wider than it was tall, and festooned it with gold ribbon and big bows. Her sons teased her mercilessly about the hedge she’d cut down and planted in the living room. We’d all gather at her house, for peanut butter balls and whipped-cream fruit salad and brown sugar ham, in the afternoon on Christmas day, and my father and his brother would have wrapping paper fights like they were ten-year-olds, stick bows on each other’s heads, and the younger kids would root for presents under the Christmas Bush.
Grandma Hantschel passed away last January, and I went to look for a tree today. I leaned more towards my mother’s side’s idea of a tree, a spindly thing with more reach than bulk, but today, I hauled home a fat scotch pine, and it’s sitting in the corner waiting for lights and ornaments. A true Hantschel Christmas Bush. It isn’t as wide as she would have liked it to be, but the tree skirt she made for me when I married is spread beneath it, and I think, all things considered, she’d approve.
Tell me a holiday story, guys.