Two young boys, huffing and puffing, drag a Flexible Flyer up worn wooden steps, banging and scraping. The boys are dressed like dark woolen snowmen from their watch-capped heads to their over-sized snow boots.
Mother stood over Little Sister, dressing her for the occasion – knitted cap tied under chin with a scarf, multi-layered clothing, and hand-me-down boots.
The three siblings slurged through heavy snow in the driveway, past the mint and white Chrysler with its push button start, into the snow drifts. The children are on a mission; they have their assignment.
They trudged a couple hundred yards – past the now-bald monkey ball trees – until they set foot on the school grounds, then ‘round the back to the dumpsters.
The school’s Christmas tree adorned the large lobby of Lora Little Elementary. After final classes marking winter break, the tree was dragged from the lobby and tossed unceremoniously out the loading dock doors. The tree is forlorn now, marked by several bent and broken branches and bent and wrinkled tinsel.
True to the elementary school tradition, this tree is twelve feet tall and wide as a 1950’s Buick. The Flexi Flyer is a scant few feet long, but none of the logistics mattered. If they did not rescue this tree, they would have no tree.
The three siblings dragged the tree past the sledding hill where one brother would break his leg, past dead weed-choked fencing where the other brother would contract poison oak, past the school’s towering metal and chain swing set where sister would jump, fly!, and dislocate her elbow.
Out of the schoolyard and down the home street, sliding down the driveway, around the house and into the back yard.
Much like Paul Bunyan, Older Brother dispatched his Boy Scout ax from its leather pouch and commenced to chop the tree to a manageable height so it would fit in the rec room.
They set the tree in a teensy, dented tree stand. They re-arranged the leftover tinsel then added their own stored decorations. Paint-flaked ornaments with misshapen hooks, delicately and laboriously placed upon bent and broken branches, until the tree brought the spirit of Christmas into the home.