Every year at Christmas for our neighbor gift, we share a new Christmas story. Being a storyteller, it seems like a good thing to do. Well this year, my daughter Kate wrote the story. She is a student at Utah State University and has a sense of humor all her own. When I read her writings, I wonder why I'm even trying to be a writer at all! Enjoy:
The Christmas Plant
A Gourley Family Epic
There are those who question the legitimacy of this story, a few call it myth, and there are those who dare to say it is fable, but I am here to tell you that it is history. Every word is solid fact.
It all began at 6:14 PM a few days before Christmas when Richard Gourley, the father figure in this tale, announced that it was time to trek to the local Albertsons and hunt for a luscious Christmas tree. The man cub Adam and the wee girl child Kate zealously cheered for joy while the Megan sat on the couch and did nothing—needless to say Megan has no part in the rest of this story, but I thought it essential to mention her existence because she is part of our family. Anyway the two youngest of the Gourley clan dressed snugly in warm yet functional garb and ran out to greet their destiny. For this tree hunt would define their young lives and perhaps suspend their childhood above the vast quandaries of life and make them ponder for a moment the meaning of Christmas (don’t worry this won’t get too sentimental so keep reading.)
The Richard and the two children drove successfully to Albertsons and began scrutinizing the evergreens. Now each had a different philosophy by which they abided: Richard sought economy, while Adam searched for hugeness, whereas Kate, the true visionary, looked for a tree that fulfilled basic aesthetic needs. And there it was—in a transcendent moment they all gasped because before them was the perfect tree. Of course they bought it. It was shaping up to be a lovely trip. The man from the store offered to secure the tree to the car roof, but father’s hubris always was his square knot. Therefore the three lurched out of the parking lot with a haphazard tree perched on the roof of their car. Rounding a particularly icy corner Kate detected an odd whoosh.
“Dearest father,” said the darling child, “I do believe our tree might be gone.”
“Impossible, I used a square knot,” grunted the father.
But then again who’s to say what’s impossible? It was vital that they brought the tree safely home. It was their duty. Rolling down the window Kate looked out at the snow zooming by. Adam the stalwart pacifist sat peacefully as Kate dangled out the window to check on the tree. Kate clung to the car like a baby marsupial and poked her head up above the roof line....the tree…..was……….gone. The tree they loved so deeply was gone. The roof was an absence. Squinching back into the car Kate announced the dreadful news, but like prophets of old her truth-speaking was met only by the incredulous statement: it can’t be so.
But it was. When they reached home all was made clear. Stepping out of the car the three travelers stood and faced the ultimate conundrum: they had picked and paid for a Christmas tree, but all that they saw was a staring void were a tree should be. Broken and weary they shuffled into their home with no bounty except for some orange twine that once held the most beautiful tree in the world. As they entered mom greeted them with an idea—they would buy another Christmas tree, but somehow the magic had gone out of the adventure. There could not be two most beautiful trees in the world. Then Richard was struck by true Christmas genius or perhaps another bout of frugality. He pointed to an unnamed tropical plant forgotten in a corner of the room and decreed: “This year, we will have a Christmas plant!”
And thus the Christmas plant was born. The family tenderly decorated the palm leaves with kindergarten clothespin Santas and strings of lights. As they sat around the unconventional Christmas tree they smiled because they realized that the true meaning of Christmas was not a perfect tree but the true meaning was love (If I remember correctly Megan possibly helped to decorate the tree. We will say that she did because it supports that time old theme of family unity). This is the very end of this story but that famous plant still resides in a corner of our front room and has in recent years grown to monstrous proportions.