Monday, April 15, 2013

The Pink Christmas Tree

My mother had excellent taste. Mama's style in clothes matched those on the best dressed list-simple, but elegant. She taught her daughters what styles, colors and length of dresses looked good on them; what accessories to wear. She also advised what hairstyles looked best on my sister and me. When our home was remodeled, my mother did the decorating and worked closely with the architect in the design of the house. The interior was gutted and a second story was added. It was a massive job that Mama accomplished easily. She literally okayed every doorknob and bit of paneling, crown molding, not to mention the carpeting, curtains, wallpaper, etc.

When it came to holidays, my mother would go all out with the decorations; always lovely and festive. Our dinner table at Thanksgiving and Christmas was resplendent with a linen tablecloth, napkins, numerous silver serving pieces and fine china. She really put on the dog, so to speak. Martha Stewart did not have anything on Mama.

That's why the pink Christmas tree was such a shock. It was so unlike our mother. While our home was being remodeled, we moved into a small rental house. Mama decided to limit the decorations, since our abode was so small and not our permanent residence. None of us had a problem with her plan. It meant less decorating for the rest of us. But what happened next was beyond anything my father or siblings could ever have imagined. My brother Larry had always been responsible for finding a live Christmas tree, usually from the woods nearby. My mother told him that would not be necessary because she had taken care of it.

The next day, there was a table size, very pink Christmas tree -- the color of Pepto Bismol -- in the front room. It was the room where we watched television, read and talked among ourselves. It was the main room for family gatherings. But the nausea-inducing tree changed everything. I'll never forget my father's reaction. His words were, "Bea, what the hell is that?" My family's reaction ranged from verbal outrage to shudders, grimaces, and a gentle shaking of the head and averting of the eyes.

Mama said we were acting silly about the whole thing. It was just a pink tree-nothing to get excited about. The rest of us told her it tended to put a damper on the holidays. "How do you decorate a pink tree?" we asked. It was the general consensus that a pink tree would clash with just about every decoration in Mama's possession. As a result, that disgustingly pink tree remained undecorated. by the end of the holidays, the front room was avoided by most of the family, the cat included.

When Christmas was over, that pink tree was placed next to the rest of the garbage to be picked up and carried away. It lay there in shame, for all the neighbors to see. Years later I reminded mama of that pink tree. I said if she had put pink flamingos in Santa hats in the front yard, it couldn't have been any worse than that horribly pink, undecorated Christmas tree we were forced to endure so many years ago.

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