"Much pleasure doth thou bring to me!"
In the beginning, an itinerant seed salesman by the name of Cecil Cedarseed wandered the land from sea to shining sea.
A sample sack of cedar tree seeds began to leak during Cecil Cedarseed's travels. The result was that the earth began to beget cedar trees all over the place, including my grandfather's farm.
It was in the early years, walking valley and dale with ax over shoulder, that I began to dislike Cecil Cedarseed. It wasn't until Sears & Roebuck, then located at 17th and Noble, began to beget a vastly improved "cedar" tree, that I finally felt a bit of forgiveness for ol' Cecil.
In the last year of Sears & Roebuck's residence at what is now the County Administration Building, we bought our very first artificial tree.
For better than two decades, that tree held our hearts through the holiday season.
In fact, early on the "artificial" tree became a member of our family and, one night late (after the blonde and the boys had retired) I even gave "her" a name.
Boy, when she was all dressed up, she was a beauty. And I took at least one night each Christmas season for just me 'n Ellen. I'd warm a cup or two of "cider," pull up a chair, and we'd talk 'til the wee hours. OK, I did the talking and she did the listening, but it was always a wonderful evening.
Then Ellen, perhaps a bit ragged from being packed and unpacked from a dark box in a dark and lonely closet, grew old . . . and finally we sent her away.
That was maybe four or five years ago, but not before her replacement arrived.
"She" was tall and very skinny and came with her very own lights. She was flashy, too, and sometimes I wondered if in another life, she had not been something of a "shady lady."
Whatever, her name was Gaudy Maudy and there was just something about her that sort of kept me at arm's length. There were no late night rendezvous. The good news is she burned much too brightly and her time was short.
She went away just two weeks ago.
Now there is "Her," a very lovely but subdued lady with quiet lights and a dignity that seems to fit very well this time of my life.
Cecil Cedarseed never had anything like "Her" in his sack and when I look at "Her," I am sometimes grateful for man's enduring belief that he can improve on what God has wrought.
Mostly he can't (of course), but when I sit here in the quiet night (yep, rendezvousing once more), I'm not inclined to argue as to who did the best when it comes to Christmas trees, God or Mr. Sears.
I certainly mean no disrespect there, but for "Her" there was no long, cold walk to the mountains, no long drag home, no #%&%## in trying to build a stand (if you get my drift). I am willing to admit (as Joyce Kilmer put it) "Only God can make a tree," but the comfort and convenience offered by Mr. Sears is difficult to ignore.
Merry Christmas, Y'all . . .
George Smith can be reached at 239-5286 or e-mail: email@example.com