Last Christmas, my friend Susie was extraordinarily pregnant with twins. Judging from her sudden circumference, each baby promised to weigh at least 19 pounds, and she still had another month to go. Her doctor ordered bed rest, which meant sending her husband (who has never worn matching socks simultaneously) and her teenage son (whose tattoo is misspelled) out looking for a Christmas tree without adult supervision.
The guys, in their manliness, wanted to hunt down a live tree from a real forest with a real axe on a 23-degree day. Susie voted for a plastic tree grown in Taiwan, believing that her men would be safer hunting in the wilds of Kmart. The guys’ “environmentally friendly” argument eventually won, mostly because Susie was chained to the couch.
“Just be careful, and don’t get anything too big,” she urged as they left.
Pretty soon, the boys returned with a 12-foot tree destined for a room with 8-foot ceilings. Susie, who was under orders to stay calm, buried her head in the pillows during the ensuing wrestling match.
Family bonding takes on new meaning when two or more relatives unite to coax a large, reluctant spruce into a wobbly, circa-1978 tree stand—and then dispute its most aesthetic placement. That can’t always be accomplished without bloodshed.
One football game and a few eggnogs later, the tree was deemed tinsel-ready and the joyous spirit of Christmas was restored to Susie’s household. That’s when the first fly appeared.
“How is that possible?” Susie asked. “It’s snowing out.”
The men chased after the fly, only to find it had called in reinforcements. On closer inspection, these were not regular flies. They were horseflies from eggs that hitched their way in on the tree.
Within minutes, zillions of newly hatched flies covered the ceilings and drapes. They buzzed overhead, forming squadrons to engage Susie’s husband in aerial battle. He swatted bravely but was hopelessly outnumbered.
Susie was not supposed to get upset, even if horseflies happened to be eating her alive. So she opted for going berserk and screaming at the top of her lungs. Her valiant son leaped on the sofa, wielding his Dyson at the swarming invaders to protect his pregnant mother (who was still on it). Her husband grabbed his Shop-Vac to do battle with the flies on the drapes, but the hordes weren’t backing down.
About two hours later, when the invasion was more or less contained, the family assessed collateral damage. Drapes were tattered; shades were torn; carpets were soaked with tree sap; and the walls were covered with bug guts. Norman Rockwell never painted this particular holiday scene.
“Where exactly did you guys get that tree?” Susie demanded.
“Well, it was awfully cold, so we decided to get it from the farm across town,” her son said.
“You mean the horse farm?” she squealed.
No one answered, but they didn’t have to. The guys reluctantly escorted their tree to the curb and set off to find a plastic replacement—the kind Susie wanted in the first place.
Environmental impact aside, it’s a small price to pay for good will toward men.
Jan A. Igoe owes a huge thank you to reader Susie Z., whose Christmas adventure was too good not to share. She wishes all our readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Write Jan here.