One . . . Two . . . Tree . . . Go

1161

By Kathy Collins

Listen to this column read aloud in pidgin:

Kathy Collins as Tita

Ho boy, seem like I just pau take down da Christmas decorations an’ awreddy time fo’ put ‘em up again. Every year I say dat. I guess dass ‘cause, every year, take me till August fo’ put everyt’ing away.

No get me wrong, now. Not like I leave up my Christmas tree till den. Mos’ times I get ‘em down by April. Eh, no laugh. My faddah was mo’ worse. One time, our tree wen stay up until summahtime. Da only reason nevah stay up mo’ long was ‘cause my maddah wanted fo’ make one Fourth of July party, so she wen’ put her foot down. Ackchally, she wen’ stomp her foot down . . . so hard, da tree wen’ huli ovah. So den my faddah nevah get choice, he had fo’ haul da bugga out and t’row ‘em away.

I was fif’ or six grade, all embarrassed. I told my faddah was bad luck—not sappose to have one Christmas tree inside da house aftah Jana-rary 6, da whatchoocall Epiphany, ‘cause dass da end of da Twelve Days of Christmas. He tell me, “What you worry? You an’ yo’ maddah wen’ take off da decorations right aftah New Year’s. All I see is one plain ol’ regulah tree.”

“In da living room! Das not regulah! My friends goin’ laugh at me.”

“Tell ‘em dass yo’ science experament.”

So every day, my maddah watah da tree, an’ every week she vacuum up da dry needohs. By July, da tree was puttin’ out roots. But Science Fair was pau awreddy and my maddah wanted her party.

I donno why my faddah was li’dat about da Christmas tree. He no was lazy, no ways. He work hard, six days a week, an’ on Sunday he do whatevah my maddah like him do. Excep’ take down da Christmas tree.

Nowadays, in my house, everyt’ing come down by da Twelf’ Day. But den take me at least couple, t’ree months fo’ pack da stuffs in boxes and put ‘em in da closet. No can help, every time I start fo’ put stuffs away, I t’ink about da stories behind da stuffs.

Like da half-dozen rockin’ horse ornaments my maddah wen’ buy fo’ my son. One diff’rent one every year from when he was born, ‘cause was da Year of da Horse. But when Junior Boy was six years old, we found out he wasn’t one Horse—he was one Snake! My maddah was all sad. You try find one new snake ornament every Christmas. Try find just one, in fack.

And den I gotta take time fo’ smell da candles. Da red cinnamon one dat smell like my auntie who always used to chew Dentyne gum an’ give da Juicy Fruit to’ me ‘cause I no could handoh da Dentyne heat. An’ da tall green one wit’ da Douglas fir smell dat put me right back in my faddah’s living room. I wish he was still around fo’ argue wit’ me.

I guess I know why he wen’ drag his feet fo’ drag out da tree every year. Sometimes you jus’ like hold on to somet’ing, even though you know da bugga is gone, yeah?

You know, I t’ink maybe dis year, I might leave my tree liddo while mo’ long. I wondah if they still get Science Fair?

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