One year, not too long after my parents had divorced, my mother tearfully announced that there would be no Christmas this year and stormed off to work. No money, you see.
It just so happened that my mother also used to rescue half-dead plants from the office and nurse them back to health. One of these was a Norfolk Island Pine we called “Helicopter.” It had been so underwatered that it had lost all of its branches except for a sad little circle at the top of a bare four-foot trunk, hence the name.
My sister and I got it into our heads to decorate Helicopter for Christmas.
We headed down to the garage and pulled out the boxes of Christmas ornaments. We used only the smallest Christmas tree balls on his delicate branches, and wound tinsel around his poor naked trunk. We wound the tinsel out the branches in a spiral. It was a very giggly afternoon, and you should have heard my mother laugh when she came home.