A Cautionary Christmas Tree Tale

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A holiday poem written by yours truly, titled “The Year the Christmas Tree Fell Over.”

We spent hours that year

Setting the tree in the stand,

Stringing lights,

Looping beads,

And hanging ornaments

One by one.

When the children came running

“The tree fell over!”

I thought they were teasing

Until I saw tears.


We spent hours that year

Setting the tree back in the stand,

Replacing bulbs and stringing  lights,

Untangling and looping  beads,

And hanging, one by one,

The ornaments that hadn’t broken.

When we were  finished,

I declared the tree

Our very loveliest

Christmas creation,

Completed with lessons

In fragility and resilience,

And yes, in the usefulness of

Fishing line at Christmas time.

This poem was inspired by the actual event.  For a change, we moved the  Christmas tree location from a bay window to a corner of the room.  It wasn’t convenient to secure the tree with fishing line  (our usual technique) in the new spot.  After some debate, we decided to take our chances, even though our stand was marginal and the tree heavy.

The minute  we proclaimed the decorating done, I headed into the kitchen to put the food on trays.  We were going to enjoy dinner by our finally finished tree.

Then bam!  Actually, the girls said it was more of a slow swoosh mingled with the sounds of breaking glass.  Our ten foot Christmas tree now lay across the living room floor.

Here’s to lessons in fragility.  Life can be tippy and treasures smashed in seconds.

And here’s to resilience.  We pick up the pieces.

As to fishing line, what strong stuff that is.  I bet it’s saved a lot of Christmas trees, maybe even yours, this year.

Poem:  The poem was first published in June Cotner’s Christmas Blessings:  Prayers and Poems to Celebrate the Season (Warner Books, 2002).

The photo above: This was taken by daughter Laura for her blog.  The tree is now back in the bay window.  It’s happiest there.

The photo below:  Me with daughters Katherine (right) and Laura, many years after the tree incident.  Photo was taken for Kath’s blog.


14 responses »

  1. I remember hearing about that incident! It seemed such a tragedy at the time, losing precious ornaments, collected over the years and ones handed down to you. However, you’re so right! It is a valuable lesson in the fragility of life and circumstances – any minute things could change drastically! Good thing to remember and good reminder to value our happy times (or maybe even our so-so times! haha)

  2. Some (maybe all?) of those tears were mine. It was devastating but of course, in the larger scheme of life, a small mishap. And now — years later — I can’t remember any of the broken ornaments. Such is life.

    • I just remember the small blue ball with the hand painted dots that was on my mother’s tree when she was little. But I think we lost some other very pretty ones, including some glass ones you bought for us in our early years.

      And it truly is amazing that Kath’s glass stork with the long beak survived.

  3. My stork survived! I can’t believe it has also survived moving to Charlotte then to Fry’s Spring and now to our third house. In fact, I nearly crush it every year when I brilliantly squeeze the tissue paper to see what’s inside. Makes no sense at all!

    It’s at the top of the tree this year – for good luck!

  4. Luckily, we never had one fall over (thanks to the fishing line trick). But one very lean, tight year, we bought a $5 tree that we didn’t realize had been spray painted green!! The next day all the needles fell off. It had been dead for quite a while I think. But that’s the Christmas the kids remember the best, with the fondest memories

    • Ha! You’re not only remembering your college years of long ago, but you are being influenced by Friend for the Ride and you aren’t even a girl.

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