“Daddy, I like this one … THIS one, daddy!” the girl insisted as she tugged on the spruce’s frozen boughs. I glanced at the child and her loosely bound tree and thought it too short, too sparse on the bottom, and far too scraggily to ever make it onto the roof of my car. I wouldn’t have taken the tree either.
“No Daddy, THIS ONE!” she demanded from her elf-like vantage point. An elderly man, perhaps her grandfather, stood with her daddy only a few feet away sizing up a strapping six-foot fir. With the air of someone who had long since paid his parental placating dues, he turned to the child and simply said, “We like THIS one better. Sorry.”
I suppressed a grin as I perused the Scotch pines, feeling a sense of empathy for the child, but at the same time, completely gratified by the old man’s no-nonsense approach. He had obviously come from the ‘Because I Said So’ school of parenting where children ‘should be seen and not heard’ and were certainly never given any real say in family matters. I waited for the wailing sounds of protest to ensue, but instead the refreshing smell of juvenile submission hung low in the pine-scented air.
As I walked out of the garden center I thought about the generational interplay in my own household. I had announced two weeks ago that I wanted to change our Christmas decorations this year. Specifically, I wanted to replace the 1970’s plastic fruit-encrusted mantle wreath that I had inherited from my mother over two decades ago, with something far less gaudy, flammable and … well, gaudy.
But my yuletide design team would have none of it. From the minute the box of decorations hit the living room floor, I lost all control of my home décor. It seems mum’s tacky mantle wreath, with its dusty holly sprigs and fake bulbous grape clusters, is a sentimental favourite with my kids. Along with her 1950’s plastic Santa, its unintentional bobble head leaning from too many years of misuse, and her chipped china Santa boot, filled again with more plastic greenery, our home has more of my mother’s spirit at Christmastime than at any other time of the year. And I guess that’s okay by me.
Besides, truth be told, I’m a sucker for a bulbous grape cluster any day.