Tag: christmastree

Charlie’s Room: The Family Tree

“But I don’t want to take down the Christmas tree,” Charlie whined. He flopped onto the couch. “If I wake up in the night and need a drink of water, it’s like a giant nightlight.”

“It’s never really all that dark at night. There’s a streetlight that shines through the windows brightly enough to see by,” Isaac pointed out. He set down the tub for the ornaments.

Charlie reached out a leg and kicked at the tub. It was just out of reach. “But why do we have to take down the tree? We put it up a month before Christmas, so it makes sense to keep it up a month after.”

“If it’s always up, it’s not as special anymore. We’ll get used to it and stop noticing it.” Isaac started putting ornaments into the box.

“Not if it’s just an extra month. Besides, aren’t we supposed to keep the spirit of Christmas all year or something? But the Christmas spirit is still special.” Charlie scooted down until he was laying on the couch cushion. He reached out a foot and his toes just touched the box. He gave it a little shove with his toes.

Isaac pulled the box over two inches so that Charlie couldn’t reach any more. He chuckled as Charlie scooted down further so that his back was only half on the couch. “That’s different. Feelings and memories aren’t as easy to forget or ignore.” He pulled the box over again and put a few more ornaments in it.

Charlie clambered over to the box, reached in, and pulled out an ornament. “Not the sheep! That’s my favorite. Put it in last so that it’s the first on on the tree.” He handed the little woolly sheep to Isaac.

“I can do that.” Isaac put the sheep higher up on the tree, by the star.

Charlie watched him place the sheep, then stood up and reached into the branches. “Look! We missed a candy cane. It was easy to see if you were looking in the right place.” He retreated to the couch with the candy. “We could take down the Christmas decorations and make it a holiday tree. We can put hearts and chocolate on it for Valentine’s day, and eggs and bunnies and stuff for Easter…”

“But we have other decorations for those holidays.” Isaac took down the star, and then the sheep.

“I guess so.” Charlie crunched thoughtfully on his candy cane. “I’m still sad to see it go. I waited and waited and waited for Christmas, and then, boom! It was over. It doesn’t seem fair.”

“Holidays are like that. A lot of things are. That’s why it’s good that there’s always something to look forward to.”

“Like what? Valentine’s and Easter? But those are so far away.” Charlie slumped back into the couch.

“Like reading the next chapter in our story at night. Or going through the seed catalogs and planning the garden. Or playing a good game of Scrabble with your dad.” Isaac closed the ornament box and unplugged the tree. The lights went off.

“But those are all normal things.” Charlie tried to kick the box again. It was too far away.

“Do they make you happy?” Isaac began to take apart the tree and put it in its box.

“I like Clue better, but yeah. I guess so.” He finished his candy cane and crumpled up the wrapper.

Isaac put the lid on the tree box and smiled. “Then they’re things to look forward to. Go throw that in the trash, and get the colored pencils and some paper while I put these away. When I get back, we can draw a family tree.”

“What’s that?”

“You’ll see.”

When Isaac returned, Charlie was waiting with the colored pencils and some paper. “Is a family tree like your family’s favorite tree? Or does it have ornaments that have something to do with your family?”

“Not really. Look. Here, I’ll draw a line and write Grandma and Grandpa’s names. My mom and dad. Then I’ll add my brother and me as branches. I’ll add Mom’s name next to mine on my branch. Now look, you’re a little branch that grows off of that one.” Isaac wrote Charlie’s name on the newest branch.

“It’s not much of a tree, is it?” Charlie took the page and held it out at arm’s length.

“If you start further back, you have lots more branches.”

Charlie put the paper down and nodded. “I guess that makes sense. So how do we find names for further back?”

“I have a larger family tree that my Mom sent me a long time ago. It’s in my desk drawer.” Isaac went and got the family tree.

“That looks like a tree. Look at all the branches. Do I know any of them?” Charlie looked through the tree for a familiar name. “Oh, there’s Cousin Reginald. I guess we really are related, huh?” His fingers traced the branches as he found the connection.

“I thought we could copy the tree and use different colors to make it pretty. We could hang it on the side of the bookshelf as a not-holiday decoration.”

Charlie pulled out a green colored pencil. “That sounds fun. Tell me about some of the people on our family tree. There’s a lot of them I don’t know. I should know more about them if they’re our family, right?”

Charlie’s Room: Cold Shower

One afternoon Isaac retrieved the Christmas ornaments from the dusty storage area in the garage. He dusted the box off with an old worn towel and brought it inside. He left the towel on the washer and carried the box into the living room where Christmas carols were playing quietly. “I found it!”

Marianne and Charlie looked up from the artificial Christmas tree Isaac brought in earlier. Assembling it was a bit of a puzzle, and they both loved the challenge. Marianne smiled. “I knew you’d find it eventually. Just leave it over by the couch.

Charlie giggled and pointed. “Dad! There are cobwebs in your hair.”

Isaac reached up and tried to feel the cobwebs. Marianne stood up and turned him around by the shoulders. “Go take a shower and clean up. We’ll be fine.”

“All right.” Isaac left them to their tree puzzle and carols. He started to run the shower, waiting for the water to heat up.

It didn’t heat up.

The water remained ice cold, long after it would normally be much warmer. Isaac turned the water off and went down the hall, passing the living room. Marianne and Charlie were singing along with “Silent Night.”

Isaac hummed along and continued through the kitchen to the laundry room. He opened the cupboard and checked the water heater. It was in good working order.

He went back to the bathroom and ran the water again. Nothing. He checked the shower head for invisible frost creatures. He’d never heard of them, but that didn’t mean that they didn’t exist.

Fortunately or unfortunately, there weren’t any. Unless they were microscopic or insubstantial. He paused to consider that. Were there really insubstantial beings? Would that make them ghosts? How could you tell if they existed?

If the only way to tell was by a cold shower, maybe there were ghosts. But it would be better to rule out other things. He left the water running and went to check and see if the kitchen sink only ran cold.

The music was off when he passed the living room. It was oddly quiet. Isaac peeked inside.

Marianne and Charlie were frozen in place. Charlie was handing the top of the tree to Marianne, who was standing on a kitchen chair and reaching for the bunch of branches. Isaac hurried into the room.

They felt warm to the touch, but solid as rock. They didn’t move. Isaac raced back to the bathroom and tried to turn the water off. The tap wouldn’t move. The water continued to make the sound of the running water, but remained as frozen as Marianne and Charlie.

Isaac tried calling Wendell, Wizard Extraordinaire, but his phone wouldn’t turn on. The lights wouldn’t turn off or on. The front and back doors wouldn’t open. He wasn’t hungry or thirsty.

Everything was frozen. And yet, oddly, he felt tired. He felt like he’d been awake for days. The more he thought about it, the more tired he felt. He laid some towels out on the carpet and fell asleep.

When he woke up, he could hear Christmas carols from the living room. Marianne and Charlie were laughing together about something. The water was still running in the bathroom.

Isaac stood up and raced into the living room. He hugged Marianne and Charlie. “Hey!” Charlie said. “Now I’m all dusty!”

“Why haven’t you started your shower yet?” Marianne dusted off her clothes. “If you leave the shower running for too long, you’ll run out of hot water.”
Isaac looked down at his dusty clothes. “Right. The shower. I should check on that.”

He dashed down the hall to the bathroom. He opened the door and steam billowed out. The mist was a little denser than he expected. How long had the water been running hot?

He turned down the tap until the temperature was just right. Then, not sure what else to do, he took a shower and washed the cobwebs out of his hair. He tossed his dirty clothes and the towel bed he slept on into the wash.

Marianne and Charlie were still putting ornaments on the tree. “Can I help?” he asked.

Charlie handed him a long bead garland. “You’re good at arranging this, so I saved it for you.”

They all sang along with “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Silver Bells.” There was leftover corn chowder with rolls for dinner. They drank cocoa in the living room with the lights off so that they could watch the blinking lights on the tree.

Isaac read a bedtime story to Charlie and said prayers with him. Marianne was in the living room reading. Isaac went to his room to call Wendell. He described the problem, worried that there was something wrong with him or his house or his water heater or the water…

Wendell laughed. “Oh that’s just a time bubble. They happen sometimes. Usually they don’t last very long and nobody notices. You just happened to be stuck in the center of a rather large bubble.”

“So what should I do if it happens again?” Isaac asked. “Is it dangerous?”

“Just wait it out. They’re not dangerous at all,” Wendell said. “Just confusing if you’re not expecting it.”

And so, years later, when he started to wash the dishes and the water wouldn’t heat up, he wasn’t surprised to see Marianne and Charlie frozen in place at the scrabble board. He just took a nap, knowing that it would pass. And it did.