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Dancing Around the Christmas Tree

My sons only date Jewish girls named Julia, at least while they’re in high school. Wally did move on to a Muslim woman in college and Rebecca volunteered to teach him about all thirteen tribes of Israel in case he decided to major in Middle Eastern studies.

But I digress.

The Snapper’s Julia is a lovely young woman with a sense of humor. I know this because A: she dates my son. And B, she gave him a Snuggie for his birthday. So when the Snapper asked if she could celebrate our various Christmas celebrations with us, I welcomed her with open arms.

The first weekend of December she showed up to watch White Christmas while I decorated the fireplace mantel. Last weekend she arrived to help us with the tree.

I should explain that I come from a big Christmas tree family. I mean, really big. We start at 8 feet tall and go from there. We are also very process-oriented when it comes to our trees. We like to take our time finding the right tree and if we find the right tree as soon as we arrive (as happened once early on in my relationship with George), we still wander about shaking out trees and assessing their freshness. This process makes George crazy as he is not—well, process oriented.

Julia however, seemed to be process oriented. We walked into the tree place last weekend and she took a deep breath and said, “This smells so good!” I considered giving the Snapper permission to marry her, on the spot. We wandered around and believe it or not, quickly agreed on a petite 8 1/2-foot tree. It was only 2 p.m.—I had visions of dancing around the tree by dark.

Then the tree man told us the drill was broken, so he couldn’t drill a hole for our stand. No worries! We had a complete drill set at home, where we couldn’t wait to go and set up our beautiful tree. Julia was so excited about the decorating that she didn’t mind hanging out the window in 25 degree weather to hold onto it as it threatened to roll off the roof. 

At home we engaged in some gender based activities: George broke out the drill set while I made some hot chocolate. I felt as if we were delivering on the experience for Julia, until George broke the drill bit and started swearing. He left to go to the hardware store for a new drill bit. I said to Julia, “There is a dark underbelly to Christmas, and this is it.”

She shrugged it off and helped me string the lights on the tree as it lay stretched out on the porch. George came back and broke the new drill bit, at which point he stomped off for a drink. I got out the hammer and pounded the base of the tree stand into the tree and then announced, “I’m ready, let’s stand this baby up.”

It fell over.

George said to Julia, “I guess you’ll only be dating Muslims after this Christmas experience.”

I got out the wire and the Snapper climbed up on the windowsill while Julia held his feet and he hammered in nails to hold the wire which would hopefully hold up the tree. I stood back and said, “Okay, it’s ready, let it go” and the tree promptly fell on the floor.


I sent George back to the hardware store, put on some Christmas carols and kept up Julia and the Snapper’s spirits by letting them have the chocolate pudding I’d made for a dinner party that night. It worked because when George returned with a new stand (the old-fashioned kind), Julia promptly hopped up onto the windowsill, wire cutters in hand, and helped tie the tree up.

It worked. 

My sons have great taste in women.

I called Rebecca while the Snapper and Julia enthusiastically hung balls on the tree and George nursed another drink. I said, “You Jews are pretty good at this Christmas tree thing. You should let your mother have one.”

Rebecca’s mother and father have moved into a kosher retirement community but her mom wants a tree and I think she should have one. Rebecca said, “No way. But yes, we are good at it. I still remember my first Christmas tree.” I said I hoped this wouldn’t be Julia’s last, based on the three hours it had taken us to get it upright.

I went back into the living room and sat down next to George. I said, “Christmas is messy but every year something happens to make it worth all the effort.” He said, “You haven’t seen the pine needles on the floor.”

Just then the CD switched over from Alvin and the Chipmunks to Aaron Neville singing, “O, Holy Night”.  The Snapper turned the house lights off and the tree lights on and I heard Julia gasp.  The Snapper grabbed her around the waist and began to dance, on top of the pine needles on the floor—and all around the Christmas tree.