Up Front and Personal

The Day the Angel Came Down with the Tree

by Barbara Gatta

For the most part, we all were in denial about our 12-foot tree a few Christmases ago.

“The tree’s leaning left,” someone observed distractedly, hardly looking up from his bowl of cereal flakes.

“I thought so too,” I yawned with little interest. “It’s straight from the front, though. I just think it’s a crooked tree.” Then I went back to more important things, my coffee and paper.

Next meal, someone again observed, with slothful indifference, “The tree is tipping more than before.”

Some turned to look. A few voiced opinion.

“No, it’s the same.  It’s leaning, though.”

“It’s OK. It was always leaning.”

“The wall is crooked.  The tree’s fine.”

In retrospect, I think we did far too much intellectualizing and not enough real research. Someone should have stepped up and maybe given the tree a shake, or kicked at the base.

The exact moment the tree gave way, my son Dominic happened to be staring up at it from a close distance.

He later reported that he didn’t think the tree was falling. He thought he was having a near-death experience, because he became aware that the angel at the top seemed to be getting closer and closer in veeeeery slooooow mooootionnnnn. He became riveted in fear, this being his final moment on Earth.

“I thought I was dying,” he testified shortly after, when all was said and done, sweat beads on his brow, nursing the sore spot on the back of his head, looking like a boy who had to now figure out what to do with his new lease on life.

The angel started getting so close, he lost all sense of balance and slammed down backwards onto the floor. Good thing, too, because his prostrate body saved many of the ornaments, since the tree landed square on his chest.  When we got to him, he was wide-eyed and face-to-face with the angel who was still on the tree but lay smack between his eyes.

Our one regret was that we didn’t get a picture of him when we finally lifted the tree up.  He was covered in and surrounded by pine needles, ornaments, lights, ribbons and tinsel in the perfect shape of a Christmas tree.  Dominic’s pine-needled torso was the single contour in the middle of the otherwise two-dimensional evergreen image.

Despite a bump, a few scratches and some stubborn sap on his adolescent upper lip, Dominic expressed enormous relief about the outcome of the whole incident.  “At least it wasn’t what I thought it was…” and then he would make sharp slicing motions at his neck.

Next year, I think we’ll attach the tree where the wall meets the ceiling with fishing line, like my father used to do. One thing I am sure of, though, Dominic will not do much close-up staring at the Christmas tree from here on in, and will most certainly not engage in any eye-to-eye contact with the angel perched on top.[hr] Barbara Gatta is a former member of Queen of All Saints parish, Fort Greene.

5 thoughts on “The Day the Angel Came Down with the Tree

  1. Dear Ms. Gatta, You always seem to get right to the heart of the matter. I enjoy that the most about your stuff. our tree once fell. It came crashing down just after I returned from my job at a bar, at about 2:30 am. I thought it an omen or something. Nothing a glass of wine and the dust pan and brush didn’t remedy. Alas we have taken to holding the tree to the top of the window frame with heavy fishing line. Works like a charm.

  2. Mother –

    Well done, though I believe that you forgot the small detail of the husband, who used the opportunity (which occurred on 26 December, nonetheless) to officially declare it the end of the Christmas season.

    Your son,

  3. Barbara, Nice job. We certainly can relate. Memories of Christmas trees past. The perfect shape, height and inevitable wobbles that can only be resolved with fishing line tied in all directions. Love and Merry Christmas to all. Richard and Debbie

  4. Barbara, I’m a great fan of you and your writing. I brought my 4-foot table tree to my brothers’ new home in CT this year and their cat “Eggnog” has made it her mission to rearrange the ornaments every night and has knocked it over once already. She has eight near-death experiences left. Your article brought back memories of the tree we bought outdoors and when we got home it would fill half the living room and the art of securing the tree which my Dad perfected over the years of my childhood. Thanks for the memories. I look forward to future articles from you. Best wishes for blessings in the New Year. Merry Christmas! Kathy