Family Fiction posted December 19, 2013

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Short reflection.

Granddad's Christmas Tree

by PhilipCatshill

Granddad's Christmas Tree

If ever I'm asked for my earliest memory, without hesitation, I reply, "The day my granddad planted the Christmas tree."

I was just knee high, so that slender tree towered over me. It wasn't a Norway Spruce or even a pine, but it was December when that old man broke through the frosted soil and put in that sapling. We called it Granddad's Christmas Tree. Though that young chestnut had hardly a branch of which to boast, he tethered a string of fairy lights around it. As those lights twinkled above our heads, he took his grandchildren one by one and tied a ribbon around the trunk just where our heads reached, until half a dozen ribbons fluttered in the breeze.

That's the only memory I have of my granddad alive. He never saw his tree in blossom. The following year, with tears in his eyes, my dad strung those twinkling lights. Like my sisters and cousins, I had grown inches, but the tree even more. My dad said, "I wonder if the old man can see us." The following year, he said the same. As the trunk grew wider and ribbon too long to tie, he took to pinning little rosettes, each one bearing a child's name, until at last, thirty rosettes fluttered in the breeze.

As my dad got older and his bones began to creak, I figured it would soon be down to me to hang those lights on Granddad's Christmas tree. By the time my turn came around, I needed a good strong ladder to reach the lowest branch. My grandchildren held it steady. When the lights were twinkling above us, I pinned the rosettes as my dad had done. And so it was each year thereafter, until at last, forty-eight ribbons fluttered in the breeze.

I smile now when I see that tree, because my grandson does the same. His grandchildren hold the ladder steady as he climbs up to the top. When the lights twinkle above their heads and a hundred ribbons hang, my dad says to Granddad at my side, "You never saw the blossom, but see how your tree has bloomed."

As I appear as a ghost in the final part of this story, I hope readers appreciate that the story is fiction. I am not yet dead.
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