Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Christmas Spirit

"The first decorated tree was in Strasbourg in 1605," Gloria said. She was reading from a complimentary Christmas mug given to us by the Papa Noel Christmas Tree people, from whom we'd just purchased our Christmas tree. "It was decorated with paper roses, nuts, apples, and candles," she said, her voice rising when she said "candles."

"Not coincidentally, Strasbourg was the site of the first fire department, also established in 1605," I said.

She loves candles. I'm the fire marshall.

"Daddy, we got a GREAT tree this year," Eli 4.4 said. The tree is rattling around in our trunk, tied down by a very polite teenager who seemed to know exactly what he was doing. Good thing, because I generally have no idea what I'm doing.

"I think it's great, too," I said. We both know that within twenty-four hours, the kittens will have absolutely destroyed it along with every ornament, and in fact, George the kitten is actually sitting in the tree within three hours. For now, though, it's in our trunk, totally unmarred.

"Maybe we can use this tree NEXT year, becuase I really love it," Eli said.

"Eli, you can't re-use a Christmas tree," Gloria said.

"Why not?"

"Because it has to be cut out of the ground for us to take it home, and it can't live without roots."

"Ooh, that sounded bad," I whispered. "Tree murderer."

"What happens to it?" Eli 4.4 asked.

"Well, it gets recycled," Gloria said.

"What do they make from it?" Eli knows all about recycling.

"Toilet paper," I said. "The kind that your mom buys when she goes to Central Market." The "alternative" grocery store, where you can buy onions hand-grown on top of Mount Tateyama in Toyama Prefecture, but the only toilet paper you can buy makes your ass chant "Attica! Attica!" after one wipe.

"Daddy, you are kidding," Eli said.

"No, I'm not, sadly," I said. "They grind up the tree once to get it the size of wood chips, but then they add a little water and roll it out. You can use it as toilet paper or sandpaper."

"Daddy, stop it!" Eli said, laughing. Eli thinks rough toilet paper is very funny, because butts are involved, and butts are comedy gold when you're four.

"Ask your mother what happened the last time she bought that toilet paper," I said.

"Mommy, what happened?"

"Great," Gloria said.

"I knew right away that your mom had bought the scary toilet paper, and I looked under the sink and found three more rolls in the package, so that was the first time I'd used it. I took a red laundry pen and wrote "J'ACCUSE!" on the package and left it on the counter."

"Mommy, Daddy didn't do that," Eli 4.4 said, laughing. I don't think he knows what "J'accuse" means, but this is the same kid who asked for a Pachycephalosaurus for Christmas, so who knows?

"Oh, he did that," Gloria said. "Believe me."

You should have heard her when she walked into the bathroom. It's in my precious book of memories.

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