Sunday, December 6, 2009

From The Vault: "The Christmas Tree Blues"

Every once in a while, when I am daydreaming or staring off into space (which are two completely different things, by the way) something in me reaches back into the furthest recesses of my mind and grabs a distant memory, usually something or some moment that made me really proud or happy, just so I can savor it once again.

I have been an avid writer for many years now; I think I toyed with the concept of my first "novel" as an impressionable twelve-year-old, and the more I read, the more I learned about writing as a craft. I followed the advice of my college professor Dr. Blair Oliver (you can check him out here) who asked if writing was something I enjoyed doing. I of course said yes, and he replied, "Good. You need to keep doing it." Now, nearly eleven years since I penned my first tome, here I am, plugging away into the depths of cyberspace.

Seriously though, when I found out I was actually good at something - I mean really good at it - that was one of my proudest moments. I don't mean to toot my own horn here, but after several failed attempts at excellence in one field or another (particularly athletics... I was very bitter about that one for a long time), to finally find your niche and be able to stick with it and really enjoy it, to be able to live your passion... I really think there are few things in life that are that rewarding.

In short, and in honor of the fast-approaching holiday season, I thought I would share this with you. This was originally an assignment given to me when I was a senior in high school - I think the assignment was to write about a day in the life of an inanimate object - and I thought this would be appropriate. Enjoy, and thank you for reading!
"The Christmas Tree Blues"
(by Heidi Miller, circa 2004)

It's no secret that life as a tree really isn't as glamorous as it sounds. There are pros and cons to it, like there are to everything, but it really gets old after a while. I suppose if I were something interesting - a Eucalyptus, or an Aspen perhaps - my life would be better than it is now, maybe even bordering on fun.

But lo and behold, I cannot enjoy life's pleasures in the manner of my deciduous comrades; there are no sights and sounds of the great outdoors to entice me, no brilliant warmth of sunshine in which to bathe my branches. Indeed, I know nothing of this, for I am but a humble, unappreciated Christmas tree.

Now, because trees - for the most part - begin their lives outdoors, planted in the rich soil of a mountainside, one might think I am simply being facetious, and surely my life is better than I say.

Indeed, one would think... but there's a catch.

Due to the fact that I am owned by a tenacious tree-hugger and her family, it would happen that I was chosen purely for my synthetic qualities.

In other words, I am fake.

Oh, sure, it's not all that bad. I mean, I suppose I should feel somewhat lucky that I am in the care of a human who is halfway concerned about the environment, and wants to do everything she can to protect my forest-dwelling brethren. My creators were also not as sparse on the authentication process as one might think, for I was given a fabricated scent of fresh evergreen to fill my new home with the heartwarming scent of the holiday season.

There is also one more pro to my existence. As one might notice, due to the fact that I am composed entirely of synthetic materials, I need not food nor water. I am made of plastic, and thus immortal.

Which is why, year after year, as the seasons pass and holidays come and go, I remain trapped inside my solitary cardboard prison. I am thrown into the dark, dank depths of the basement with only mice and spiders to keep me company, having no clue as to when I will again be free to stretch my branches and feel the warmth of the living room.

Until one day, the door opens...

I am whisked from my desolate prison without so much as a warning; my branches are assembled and awkwardly flattened, and a brightly colored blanket is quickly thrown onto the floor around me. I then feel the weight of large glass objects being hung on my branches, and I must fight to keep them aloft. Several yards of multicolored beads are then draped across my body, and a large star is then placed atop my head. Even the family cat tries to get in on some of the action, but when he attempts to scale my branches, I can easily drop him, sending his furry body to the carpet below with a thud.

The next week is a blur of vibrant color, wonderful smells, and jovial tinkering of Christmas music. I am filled with wonder and delight as the sun shines through my window, causing the snow-covered ground to erupt with a dazzling spectrum of sparkling winter. Each day, I awaken to the smell of freshly-baked cookies wafting from the kitchen, the delighted shrieks of children as they celebrate the countdown to Christmas Day, the extraordinary sights of otherwise drab houses magically transformed to winter wonderlands filled with twinkling lights and animated reindeer.

But, as I soon discover, not all things last forever.

The big day passes before my eyes with the speed of light, and soon I find that things around the house are not as jovial as they once were. The smells, sounds, and sights of the holiday are but distant and joyful memories of an age past, and as I am slowly dismantled and placed into my lonely cardboard box, to wait yet another year, I have but one thing left to say:

Bah Humbug.

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