This is the year we decided to stop pretending

This year, we finally decided to end the charade (I pronounce it sher-rod). For years we had pretended. At first it was for the kids and then we hung on because of the grandkids. It ended in 2016. I didn’t shed a tear. She vacillated until I put my foot down. It was over.
What we decided to do is not the answer for every couple. The friends with whom we’ve shared the news are stunned. Most of them can’t imagine doing what we’ve done.
I’m going to come right out and say it: we didn’t have a Christmas tree this year. I have advocated this for years. To no avail.
But, this year, My Current Wife’s CDO (that’s OCD in alphabetical order) overcame her reluctance. First, we had to get our carpet cleaned. Again. Because, apparently someone had walked on it since the last cleaning. (It remained “clean” for one week until the two youngest grandson tracked in mud from the creek.)
Then we had to get the carpet stretched. It had gotten wrinkled. She apparently doesn’t like wrinkled things which may explain why she gives me some of the looks I get.
By the time all the workers had been scheduled and the work completed, it was six days before Christmas. The local Christmas tree lot was closed until 2017.
We saw some trees in Simpsonville, but the store didn’t drill the hole in the bottom to fit into our Dale Taylor tree stand (the greatest invention on Earth).
I have a drill and am quite capable of drilling a hole in the bottom of a tree, but if that hole is not exactly straight, which mine would not be, the tree is going to be a leaner once it’s in the stand.
Being the last house on the block to have a Christmas tree is not unique to this year. We’re always late.
In years past, I have driven all the way to a Christmas tree farm in Ware Shoals for a tree. They had closed for the season, but a relative of the owner worked with my son and they agreed to sell me a leftover tree and drill the required hole.
One year, we purchased the very last Christmas tree at the Lowe’s in Newberry. I discovered that evergreens aren’t really green forever. All the needles had fallen off this tree by the time we got it home. We had a Charlie Brown Christmas that year.
Last year, we bought a 10-foot tree from the local Christmas tree establishment just before they loaded up the dregs to be hauled off. They cut four feet from the bottom and trimmed and trimmed the top and we ended up with a decent-looking yule tree. And they drilled the requisite hole in the bottom. I was a happy Scrooge.
We debated – the Current Wife and I – about going treeless this year.
Her: Do you think the grandkids will be upset?
Me: Are we giving them gifts?
Her: Remember I made my Scrooge boss give me a day off to wrap presents? Of course we’re giving them gifts, Sparky.
Me: Then they won’t care about a tree or the lack thereof.
As I write this, Christmas is still four days away, so I don’t know if my prediction is accurate. I’m betting it is.
If any of the grand-younguns say, “Hey, where’s the Christmas tree at?” I’ll resist the urge to talk about ending a sentence with a preposition and say, “Here, open another gift up.”
Please don’t send me any preachy emails about Christmas not being about gifts. I understand the real meaning of Christmas. The real reason for the season, of course, is my annual column about the Franklin family’s travails in search of the perfect tree (following in the tradition of my mentor, Donny Wilder).
Merry New Year, suckers.

(Larry Franklin is publisher of The Chronicle. His email address is His blog is available at

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