Tuesday, December 22, 2009


In June of 1978 Don and I moved to Southern California from Michigan with three teenagers and our famous cat, Amos. Michigan – the land of ice and snow in the winter (some times up to our “you know whaties”). Christmas was a time to enjoy the cold and snow --- to toboggan, skate, make snow angels and snowmen and to feel one’s cheeks turning a bright red from the cold--- along with ice sickles under one’s nose. It was fun and what all of us had experienced our entire lives, BUT not what we were experiencing now.

Long about mid December we began to realize Christmas would soon be here, but how could that be – there was nothing but sunshine and warm temperatures, flowers blooming and our winter paraphernalia was hanging quite lonely in the closet. This couldn’t be Christmas we all decided. It was ridiculous to think of celebrating the holiday at 70 degree temperatures and even more ridiculous to think of getting and decorating a Christmas tree. We all agreed there would be no tree this year, maybe just a decoration or two.

On Christmas Eve we were around the dinner table discussing California living and getting pretty lonely for familiar things, each of us secretly wanting more of a celebration. I can’t remember who (I believe it was Dionne) finally said – “I think we should have a tree – just a little one to remind us it is Christmas. There wasn’t one descending vote --- it was about 7; 30 p.m., the stores and tree lots had closed. Kurt & Mom were elected to see if there was a tree to be had while the rest of the family (Dad, Scott & Dionne) searched for the lights and ornaments.

Off we went in my Gremlin --- it had a hatchback just perfect for transporting a tree. There was a nearby Vons Supermarket which had sold trees in their parking lot, but there were only two left and not a soul in sight. We got out of the car to inspect the trees closer (feeling just a bit conspicuous and guilty I might add) and found that it was a darling, well formed little tree. We couldn’t just take it, could we --- it would be stealing. After about two seconds contemplating the implications of a life of crime, Kurt picked up the tree, shouted “Start the car” and threw the tree in the back. Thus began our life of crime – mother & son partnering in tree-napping, but making our first Christmas in California not nearly as dismal as we had envisioned.