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A Shared Story: Half-Lit

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Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree.
In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall. ~Larry Wilde

When it comes to Christmas trees, less is more, proclaimed our friend Bud. Convinced that he had found the secret to simplicity, sensibilities and holiday sanity, he initiated the SCTC: The Small Christmas Tree Comeback Initiative.

We bought a little tree this year he told me, and placed it on a table in front of the window. From the street, it looked huge! And guess what else? Last night before I went to bed, I stopped to admire the pretty little thing and it smiled at me.

Bud and I are both writers and both of us have been known to sip a martini or two, which may account for his having a flirtatious tree and me believing him. Just saying.

At our house Babe talked our yardman into bringing up our 16-foot, pre-lit tree stored since last Christmas in what passes for a basement in St. Simons Island which, as even a fifth grader knows, is below sea level.

Once it was upstairs (cobwebs and all), they stacked the three separate pieces on top of one another in an upright position, although upright might be a slight overstatement. The limbs twisted toward the kitchen and looked a lot like the leaning tower of too many crantinis.

It was not smiling. Tilting drunkenly maybe, but smiling? Not so much.

When we plugged it in, only half of the 27,500 twinkle lights sprang to life the way they should have. The other half sagged on the branches like Santa with a belly full of spiked eggnog.

For over an hour, Babe and I searched for a plug that should have been buried within the plastic tree limbs. It was not. Those Chinese people have a lot to answer for.

Our tree wasn’t even grinning. If anything, it copped an attitude and smirked.

We were trying to be jolly while hoping the stubborn thing would miraculously light up, when Babe’s scheduled bridge game trumped our merry Ho Ho Ho’s. Dashing through the door, he promised to get it working before next Christmas.

Seriously annoyed, I went to the grocery store where I spent the equivalent of a two-week vacation on the French Riviera. Among my purchases, however, was a can of pine Christmas spray to which I drenched the fake tree. Even after the dousing, the tree didn’t smile so I made a batch of chocolate fudge and ate every piece of it.

When Babe returned, he stared at the lopsided, half-lit tree that smelled like a Texaco restroom recently cleaned with Lysol. He said, Let’s get ourselves lit and figure out how to lighten up this sad tree. I’ll make the crantinis; you find the Andy Williams Christmas CD.

So we sat side-by-side in front of a crackling fire, sipping Russian elixir mixed with cranberry juice. And we gazed at the imported half-lit, non-smiling Leaning Tower of Beijing, previously thought to be the very last Christmas tree we would ever need to buy.

Here’s an idea, said I.

Forget it. We have no more extension cords. Ace Hardware ran out, too. I checked, said he.

Let’s just get rid of it. The yardman probably knows someone who wants a 16-foot tree with 27,500 moody twinkle lights. Pay him twenty-five bucks to take it off our hands or dump it where the sun don’t shine. Fake trees don’t need sunlight.

I could tell Babe liked my idea, even if he hadn’t thought of it himself. Hey, it’s a man thing.

Staring at the lopsided, half-lit tree, he let out a turbo sigh before asking, Bu what will we do for a tree?"

New rule. We’ll embrace Bud’s SCTC and buy one we can take to the shredder after Christmas. I’ll string popcorn while you look for some old lights. We’ll do like people used to do back in the day.

He gave me a look. Back in which day?

Back before China began exporting plastic pre-lit Christmas trees that don’t light up.

He shook his head. Right. Our forefathers would never have considered decorating a fake tree, said he.

Tacky, said I.

Seriously, said he.

Bud’s tree smiled at him. Maybe ours will too.

Babe rolled his eyes. Uh, maybe you should cut back on the crantinis, Sweetie, said he.

Why should I do that, said I. The world needs more smiles.

Editor’s Note: Cappy Hall Rearick is a humor columnist for the Lowcountry Sun in Charleston, South Carolina. She is the author of seven published books. Visit her at

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