Drunk Doug the Christmas Tree

We strap our leggy Douglas onto the roof of the mini (the tree larger than the vehicle) and put-put our way home, giddy with excitement.

Photo on 2013-12-02 at 5.33 PM #2

Nora and I are having Christmas early at Grammy and Poppa’s because my brother is in town so I thought we’d get into the whole spirit of the season early. We also have the Algerians here, shining a fresh light onto the whole beautiful absurdity of the season:


1)   Cut down a large tree from the forest and bring it into your house

2)   Gack it up and light it within an inch of Vegas

3)   Give children enough sugar to jack them to the speed of sound

4)   Somehow, for some of us, this has something to do with Jesus. It most certainly has everything to do with “God save us” if we didn’t get our shopping done on Black Friday.


I make hot cocoa and push around the furniture and go get Douglas. I prop him up by the piano and he weaves there, the tallest scrawniest tree I’ve ever donned with gay apparel. He leans irrevocably to the left, all gawky, like a drunken teenaged boy. I plunk him in the drink but his leg is way too skinny for the tree stand. I wrap an old sock around the screws and give him a wall to lean on if he has to toss a little tinsel.


We pull out the ribbons and lights and ornaments. Sousou and Haha cheerful pin on polka dotted bulbs and little white doves. “this is from my mother”, “Nora wraps up a little letter for me every year and hangs it on the tree” “this is from a show I was in” They do not seem fazed by our Barbie-esque topless home made angel with Victoria Secret wings. Nora bounds around the house with her Santa hat on, singing for three hours straight. She is lifted now and then by a motherly guest who just has to give her a squeeze. We play the only Christmas CD I not only tolerate, but deeply enjoy, Christmas Instrumental by fabulous local: Spencer Capier.



(get it, it’s gorgeous, you can order on line, cheap!)

It’s then that I realize one of our boxes of ornaments is gone. Somehow in the move I lost my glass icicle from dear Olivia, my red garland from when I was a child, my snow globe from Aunt Connie, my beautiful silver crosses I bought my first Christmas alone, my snowflake picture of baby Nora…and I don’t even want to begin to remember what else. Chokes me right up. I don’t mention it to anyone.


I’m not much of a materialist, but I am very sentimental and fond of tradition. But once the pang passes, a sense of “rightness” settles in. Somehow, the absence of some of my favorite things feels entirely fitting and right for the season. I have also lost Grampa singing carols by the fire. Dad with his late outrageous presents, sprinkled with cigarette ash.  Jayne and her intelligent cackle, hand tooling fine twisty wood bangles. Gramma Bunny and the sweet way she’d shake her head “no” while giggling at something a little bit naughty. Jeremy having to dress up like a giant singing candy cane for a play I wrote him into.


As one gets older, we notice the empty chairs in the room. We know who is not there. And remembering them is no longer about the loss, but a quiet loving nod to the past. A love note. “I remember you. I loved you. You are still missed. Even now.”


Dougie, well lit, has grown into something of a handsome young man.IMG_0875

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  1. Charlotte

    Love it !

    1. Lucia Frangione

      Thank you, dear Charlotte!

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