Monday, December 19, 2005


In Which I Make Cutting Remarks...

Well, I guess it's official. While trying to trim up my beard last night, I found myself trying to even up first one side, then the other, until I suddenly had smooth cheeks, and this:


Beard: Day 9

So, goatee--sorry, VanDyke--it is. For now.

I'm disinclined to shave any facial hair off as it has been really cold of late, and I could have used some the week before last, when we found ourselves miles from the city, in as close to "woods" as I felt I could get without driving all the way up to New Hampshire. Then we spent a rather brisk few minutes wandering about a field of Christmas trees, deciding which one was ours.


The Brownie saw a lonely one. It had good form, but about a foot from the top it had a bald patch that went all the way around the tree. Pretty glaring spot and hard to fill. But the Brownie said, "Oh, we can tie a big bow on it. Or I will put my stuffed animals in there to live." I insisted we keep looking, but she was not to be deterred. Finally, she looked at me with tears forming in the corners of her eyes--tears that threatened to turn to ice cubes, it was so cold.

"What is it?" I said, still casting about for the right tree.

"Dad," she said, holding one branch of the tree in her mittened hand, speaking to me in her tiny almost-gonna-cry voice. "Think how sad this tree will be now if we don't pick it."

Oh for-- I thought.

But of course, I was powerless to resist and so I came over and cut it down.


Incidentally, chewing your way through the branches and bark is not the textbook method for cutting a Christmas tree down. But I eventually succeeded, and then asked Thomas to help me haul our prize back to the farmhouse out of which this family ran their tree field.


Thomas was seriously uncomfortable. Despite wearing pretty decent boots (but pretty lousy socks) he was complaining that he couldn't feel his feet. By the time we dragged the tree the quarter-mile back to the farmhouse he was crying, poor guy, and I couldn't help but feel for him, having remembered exactly how it felt to be helping your dad haul trees through the snow when you're just a little guy and your feet are cold. It's just about as bad as being left to haul the tree by yourself, which of course I was doing now.

Luckily, inside, after taking our money, the very nice lady who ran the operation gave Thomas and the Brownie a cup of cocoa. By the time we had the tree wrapped up and on the car and were back on the road for home, Thomas was himself again. He could feel his feet and was reassured that we likely wouldn't have to amputate.

"I'm never doing that again," he said. "That was way too cold. Next time let's just pick one on the corner down the street."

Where they sell them for four times the price, I thought. Granted these little tree farms are not much better in my view, and yes, I know there are plenty of you out there (and plenty within my own family) who object to the wanton slaughter of innocent conifers. But with my background, I simply can't bring myself to have an artificial tree in the house. More than that, something deep within compels me not simply to pick a good-looking tree from a corner or a parking lot, but to go looking for it.

"Well, I guess Papa will be disappointed," I said to Thomas at last. "One of these years I know he'd really like to take you up on the hill to hunt for Christmas trees."

Thomas paused, quietly reconsidering.

"Tell the Tree Story, Daddy!" the Brownie cried, who was still pink-cheeked and ebullient at the idea of having picked the tree that was now on our roof.

"Well, you know we used to go up on the hill to get our tree," I said.

"No, tell about the time you were poor and had to sell the trees for Christmas moneys," the Brownie insisted. "And how the truck broke down, and about the hat, and the brook, and how your weiner fell off--"

"Okay!" I agreed, just a couple of words too late.

Her Lovely Self gave me one of those oh-boy-here-we-go-again looks...

Oh! I could just imagine the poor little Brownie with little ice cube tears clinking down her cheeks, just like in the Bugs Bunny cartoon with the sad little penguin...

What a *good* Daddy you are. Tie a big old bow around that bald spot (on the tree, of course) and take a picture.

Then, get back here and tell us all about how your WIENER fell off. Please. Because I sense that this one might be the story that will result in me actually being ROTFLMAO...
The VanDyke looks great
The tree divine
But you have left us dangling
Like fish on a line...
Tell the Tree Story, MM! Pretty please. Just think of how sad we'll be if we don't hear it.
Here are my (rather lame) sad eyes... @,@
No worries, our tree has a bald spot, too. I'm a "grown-up" and it was hard for me not to get the tiny tree that was almost identical to the Charlie Brown tree, so, I feel for the Brownie. What a good daddy you are!!

The goatee looks nice...but I hope it's not compensating for a lost weiner....? Can't wait to hear THAT story!
Dear MM,

Can't wait to hear your story. Sorry about your weiner.

I agree. Lost weiner stories should always be told at Christmas time. They definitely fill me with the holiday spirit (that and Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas)... So let's hear it! ;-)
This has nothing to do with the post - just occured to me how much I do enjoy, surfing blogs and seeing the MM link on other sites I read... makes me feel like I read the cool kids sites ... just a thought
Wow, I can only imagine how authentic it must be to actually have a white Christmas. I doubt my body (which is completely conditioned to endure only South Texas weather) would ever be able to handle cold like that, but it sure looks beautiful. Tell Thomas to count his blessings...the snow may be miserable when it freezes your feet, but there are some of us who will not only NEVER see a white Christmas, but have to decorate the tree when it's 80 degrees outside!
Happy Holidays from Texas!
Oh she is good. You need to keep a lil gold statue in your pocket for performances like that.

Why is it that I always have scenes from Christmas vacation flashing through my mind while reading your latest posts?

Looking gooood (vandyke)!
Your loyal reader is horribly sick and stuffed up and feeling utterly miserable! Don't wait too long before you post the story, please? It will be the highlight of my day. =)

PS: Thanks for the J.Stover book recommendation; my boyfriend is loving it right now.
It is a pretty tree.

My brother used to do something pretty cool... ( Bear with me---it's the naturalist in me---)

He had a small douglas fir planted in a LARGE planter. (Normally, since it takes a teenager's worth of years for the little guys to get to Christmas tree size, this planter would suffice for ages.)

Anyway, he would leave the tree outdoors during the non-Christmas season---and bring it in during.

It worked for him---his daughters were thrilled.
And the little tree that could has celebrated Christmas with that family for 22 years now.
Cave-Woman, that is awesome! I'm going to have to remember that.
I think the goatee look is a good one for you, MM. Glad you got the tree home'll have to post some pics of the decorated product when you get a chance.
When I read the part about The Brownie tearing up, I had a flash of Merry Christmas Charlie Brown:

"All it needs is a little love"

And, apparently, some plush animal residents. Or a bow.

I have a lot of reading to catch up on... I've missed these stories!

I thought that first part was going to turn into one of my favorite Marx Bros scenes (just a little snoop on this side...). :)

BTW you were spot-on with your predictions. It has been a really busy couple of months.
Granted, the Van*bleep* looks good, but I make another plea for The Royale And Moustache (a mustache with a tuft of hair under the lower lip)... The Van Dyck (named after Sir Anthony van Dyck) is ok, except for it to be a real Van Dyck it should have upturned ends. For The Royale And Moustache, think Frank Zappa. I think it would be a very bold look for you.
All right. I know that you're the master of the cliffhanger, but it is just NOT fair to leave us waiting to hear about your wiener falling off. Too many unwanted images in my head now. Please hurry back to finish!
My family used to go and cut down a tree every year - with another family (good friends of my parents) - consisting of a normal mom and dad, and two seriously unhinged sons. I dreaded it every year...but I kind of wish we still did it now.
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