and no needles

our first christmas tree followed us from the room
so we started anchoring them
to the ceiling.

then there were the times
when we tromped out as a family
in search of
the perfect tree.
even though the trees
were always resplended,
their branches fully laden
with handmade ornaments
crafted from glue
and popsicle sticks
and fuzzy red pom-pom balls,
the actual shopping
excursion was never
our finest moment.

the shortest tree-shopping trip ever
was the year we found the coveted
two-headed tree.
but because it started to rain on our way home
didn’t stop raining till mid-january,
that famous tree never made it inside.

four full-to-the-brim calendars
ushered in the
color-coded tree-in-a-box.

the december daddy died,
hubby went out by himself
and fetched a $5 tree.
we leaned it up in the courtyard.
and for the first time ever,
we were totally unconcerned about
turning its bad side to the corner.
foregoing the ornaments and even the
dreaded tree stand,
we threw some lights at it
and enjoyed looking at it
through the glass
where it became a metaphor
for my life.

there was the year
we wanted to buy
a tree from the
local filling station.
they had two left,
and while the girls
were prepared and willing
(eager, even)
to take both home,
the guys said an emphatic and convincing “no”
so we drove on,
unwilling to separate
the two trees one from the other.
(we didn’t go treeless, though,
eventually paying somebody $25
when they agreed to let us chop down
a tree from their front yard.)

there were the christmas cruises
when we left the decorating
(and the consequent clean-up)
to them.

a friend’s accidental death
this week
caused my son to get home
just yesterday,
on christmas eve afternoon,
which effectively eliminated
any time for the annual
tree-shopping excursion.

scanning the roadside
on the way home from the
asheville airport,
and finding absolutely nothing
i’d just begun to mourn
when the idea fairy screeched in to visit
just as we entered the
last curve before home.

we were just too tired
to deal with it last night,
and it would’ve been easy
to skip on past it this morning.
in fact, the kids voted nay,
but my adorable husband
sensing how much it meant to me,
spent the
12 minutes required
(and that’s from fetch to finish, folks)
decorating this year’s tree.

well, it’s not actually a TREE,
mind you.
you see, this year
we strung lights around
the green TRUNK
that’s been in my daddy’s family
for forever
and a day.

looking at that festive trunk,
i see roots that run deep.
i see dints and dings that bear witness to storms weathered successfully.
i see gifts being tenderly cradled on the inside,
till they’re ready to be
shared and laughed and sung right out loud.
i see locks and latches that are easily undone,
but effectively protective when needbe.
i see where the lights are plugged into the nearby outlet
because let’s face it: everybody needs help generating energy every now ‘n then.

what else do i see?
i see stories
and smiles
and laughter.
i see hugs
and tears
and togetherness.
i see resolve
and grief
and love.
long-standing, deep-running love.
and perhaps best of all,
i see a brand new tradition
conjured from the oldest of old traditions: resourcefulness,
or as we might call it just this once: inJeanneuity.

o christmas trunk, o christmas trunk . . .


this post is my response to today’s reverb10 prompt from tracey clark: Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.


  1. Artemis Retreats

    this made me cry, my heart often feels like it’s going to explode when I read your words. I am here sending you love.

    • whollyjeanne

      Funny, that’s how I feel when I read your exquisite posts, sugar. xo

  2. Mark

    This is so very touching, and I truly enjoyed reading it. Just wonderful…

    • whollyjeanne

      Thanks, Mark. Appreciate you stopping by.

  3. Mrsmediocrity

    you are priceless and worth way more than a thousand words and i love you.
    and sending hugs as well. merry christmas.

    • whollyjeanne

      thank you, sugar. got your hugs and kept those, but sent some of my own to you with a tag that says “big love.”

  4. Anonymous

    Merry Christmas sweet Jeanne, to you, your family and your Christmas trunk.

    • whollyjeanne

      Hahahaha. Thanks, sugar. You are just precious.

  5. Dian Reid

    i just love you, sugar. xoxo

    • whollyjeanne

      And I just love you back, Sugar.

  6. Happiness Inside

    How come your words always sound so full and rich in my head, almost as if you were teaching my thoughts to talk?

    Beautiful, Jeanne. Merry Christmas. I hope your heart knows ever-growing joy and peace as you walk into 2011.

    • whollyjeanne

      Wow, Tracy. What a lovely compliment and a huge compliment you’ve just dropped off. Thank you, sugar. As for the spamlike behavior, I have no idea what you are talking about. I guess whatever made Disqus unhappy worked itself out.

  7. DrDolly

    Merry Christmas. May not have the evergreen smell, but it’s far more endearing than a tree. I love your words.@drdolly

    • whollyjeanne

      fortunately i had the good sense to buy a balsam pine candle, and it stepped in to provide the evergreen smell! thank you, sugar.

  8. Noel

    That’s the thing we Americans forget — it’s not how the tree looks at the end of the day, but the memories you made getting it! (After all, isn’t that really what ornaments are, just memories brought into tangible form?)

    I am sorry for the loss of your father, and happy to hear of the beautiful way you celebrated him this year.

    • whollyjeanne

      well hey, noel. yes, i think you’re right: ornaments are tangible memories. i’d absolutely expect you, a woman named noel, to understand that and the real spirit of christmas trees. thank you.

  9. Jean Burman

    Love this Jeanne. You say life how it is and I like that. Our family has had quite a history with Christmas Trees as well but I won’t go into it here. I love the depth and breadth of your writing.

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