One year when my boys were in grade school, Christmas approached and I had absolutely no money. I was strapped. It was all I could do to find a couple fun gifts for each boy (and not hear "Boring clothes, AGAIN?"). I decided not to get a tree. We'd just do without the dang thing. A tree didn't express the meaning of Christmas anyway. That's what I'd tell the boys. There was no fir tree decorated with handmade bells and angels at the Manger.
I got up one morning and started the ritual of getting everyone ready to leave for the day – matching socks (so they couldn't find matching socks and I see them walking down the sidewalk as I am driving away, each wearing one brown sock and one red sock), cereal, make beds, get myself dressed. I started to leave and I couldn't get my back door open. There was a HUGE Christmas tree laying on its side right at the door. I had to go around through the front door to get to the carport, where I discovered that I pretty much had to get INTO the tree in order to lift it up and move it. So, I'm kind of inside the tree, waddling out into the front yard, meandering and zigzagging to keep upright. What my neighbors saw at 6:30 in the morning was a drunk Christmas Tree trying to break in the front door. But I finally made it!
There was a card, Goofy on the front, signed by "Anonymous." "Have a Merry Christmas!"
I have two very good friends who happened to also be Spokane police officers – high up in rank, too – one was a Sergeant and one was a Lieutenant. I'd have them both over for coffee or dinner; holidays were a buffet style where each could stop in on his dinner break, grab a plate, eat, and run.
After much sleuthing on my part, it turned out that one night they both ended up on the graveyard shift. They got to talking about their poor pitiful friend (moi) and came up with a plan. (There should be a drum roll and suspenseful sounding orchestra music here.)
They met at a tree lot that was pretty sparse, being so close to Christmas. They snuck in and stole a tree! (They said later that they borrowed it but that since I had used it and its needles were falling off in droves, they really couldn't take it back in that pitiful condition, now could they?) I have often wondered what this looked like, but here you go.
So, after Christmas and guiltlessly enjoying someone else's stolen property, I quietly surreptitiously got rid of the tree in the middle of the night, limb by limb, filling the dumpster. It was the largest tree I have ever had in my house, and the one with the darkest history, too. Imagine two of our finest, just common thieves in the night.