Dog lover and outdoorsman, John Marshall is a veteran reporter who has worked for The Associated Press and other major news outlets.
My Dog Has Convinced Me To Leave Up the Christmas Tree
I’ve made an important decision in life -- I’m leaving up my Christmas tree.
Though I do so with great trepidation, I feel compelled to make my choice known by reporting it in a public forum, and posting it on social media. I know by doing so I’ll be subjected to an onslaught of criticism, likely along with insulting rebukes and hateful commentary.
Many of you upon reading my revelation, will no doubt be shocked. I suspect even lifelong friends will likely call me foul and disgusting names. Other friends and former colleagues might even (gasp) unfriend me or block me from their social media accounts, or even take me off their Christmas card list.
Yes, I Have Many Concerns Over My Christmas Tree Revelation
And I have additional concerns over my revelation. I’m quite worried that when the worst of the Covid pandemic is over and I resume taking my elderly mother to church, the priest, as the Alice Cooper hit song from the 1970s goes, might “Recognize me and punch me in the nose.”
For that matter, my mother might be so alienated by my decision she’ll refuse to be seen with me. She might even write me out of her will.
If this were centuries ago I might be burned at the stake or chased down my suburban cul-de-sac by an enraged crowd wielding torches and pitchforks. If it were 150 years ago I might be rounded up by the local sheriff and his posse of vigilantes and hanged high from an oak tree. Or in more modern times, thrown in jail with no charges.
On the other hand, in revealing my decision, perhaps some of you will resolve to join me, sparking a critical and important movement that will bring much needed and momentous change to the world. At a minimum, by joining me in my painstaking decision, and mounting the courage to make your own similar stand, perhaps you’ll bring a bit of daily happiness to your life all year round.
But Don't Just Hate Me, Please Let Me Explain
Before I expand on my shocking revelation, I feel the need to at least offer up a bit of an explanation. Perhaps in doing so I’ll soften the expected fierce and ongoing attack on my character. I also hope my explanation will provide a resolve to those who desire to join me in my move.
In reaching my decision, I must say during the last few weeks my Christmas tree has prompted pleasant memories from my childhood, brought back fond memories of my father -- who was one tough SOB -- and besides, my dog likes it.
Yes, again -- I’m leaving up the tree.
Now that you picked yourself up from the floor, stopped screaming to the heavens, or concluded the pounding of your otherwise innocent desk, allow me to offer some explanations.
My Christmas Tree Prompts Pleasant Memories
First of all, it’s an artificial Christmas tree, so of course there’s no potential fire hazard.
Additionally, as I wrote above, the tree, with its fake snow on its artificial branches, evokes pleasant childhood memories. Growing up in suburban Boston, while playing hide “N seek, or some other game, likely now banned in certain school districts, I distinctly remember tromping through the snow and crawling under a large and snow covered pine tree. Being beneath the tree, with the ground covered by dried out pine needles, was actually a warm, dry and comfortable place. The pine needles made for a soft and dry ground covering, while the snow covered branches kept the area beneath the tree dry, blocked the wind and generally seemed to make for a cozy and peaceful spot.
The tree also reminds me of my father, who passed away more than two decades ago.
Here’s why. My father was a big, burly, outdoorsman, who loved being out in the woods. He was also a hunter, who since he only occasionally came home with a deer, I believe simply liked tromping around the wilderness.
It was during one hunting trip in the deep backwoods of Maine, he failed to return to my aunt’s cabin on a lake, from where he had departed earlier in the day.
With an early snowstorm blowing in, and my father not prepared for a freezing night in the woods, this caused great panic in the family.
But, as it turned out, there was no cause for panic. As my father later told me, he was tracking a deer over a distant ridgeline, when a snow squall blew in. If you’ve ever been in the deep woods late in the day, late in the year, it gets dark earlier than expected. And with falling snow, nightfall comes even sooner, visibility is reduced to near zero and the tracks of where you came from are covered up.
So, as my father recounted, he simply crawled under a pine tree and prepared to stay the night.
I knew from my childhood experiences that tree would have provided him with a soft place to sleep, kept him dry and protected him from the wind and falling snow.
The next morning, as my father told the story, he simply roused and walked down a trail. He was surprised when he was eventually greeted by a search party.
“Are you Jack Marshall?” one of the searchers gingerly asked. “Yea, who the hell are you?” my father said he responded. He couldn’t imagine what the fuss was all about.
And Besides, My Dog Likes the Tree
But here’s the final reason I’m leaving the tree up -- my dog Mookie likes it. Since I put up the tree, Mookie enjoys sleeping under it. Seeing him curled up comfortably under the tree after I first put it up, I moved his bed under it. He enjoys his naps under the tree more than any other place in the condo -- even more so than sleeping on clean towels fresh out of the dryer. (Though for the record, come bedtime Mookie still takes up his rightful position of hogging most of the bed). Perhaps he’s enjoying the cozy comfort of being under the tree, as I did as a child. Or maybe he feels safe in the protection he perceives it provides, as did that pine tree for my father during that snowy and cold night years ago in the woods of Maine.
As for me, I like the look of snow-covered branches, with a palm tree behind it. It reminds me of a wintry Southern California scene in reverse, where you can actually stand on a beach, see palm trees in the foreground, and admire snow covered mountains in the distance.
There are, however, a couple of traditions I’m conceding to. I will take off the ornaments and will remove the colored lights from the palm tree.
The Christmas tree has attached white lights, so I can’t remove those. But I am resolving not to turn them on at night during the year -- after all, I suspect the neighbors think I’m crazy as it is.
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- A Dog’s Note to Humans to Help Them Get Through the Coronavirus Crisis
Mookie, an adorable Cairn Terrier mix, had a rough life when he was younger. Rescued from hoarders in a home with no air conditioning during the roasting Texas summer, he tells his story in the hopes it will help humans get through tough times. Writt