So I was looking through our Picasa photos, and found the very subject of a photoless holiday post I placed almost 3 years ago. So, as we again approach Christmas, I decided to resurrect that old post, and this time add the evidence:
I was reminded of a childhood experience that made a difference in who I am. My parents were amazingly tolerant of my attempts at creativity. They would even encourage me, or at least would humor me by acting impressed with my innovations. This tended to make me a little brazen and presumptuous with the things I would do around the house. You've probably heard the story about me punching holes in the car muffler with a nail, so that it would have a mean rumbling sound. I was always taking things apart and putting them back together, often using, and sometimes losing my dad's tools without permission. I would get into a little trouble for that and I had to learn to take care of the tools. He never minded my using them, he just wanted them put away when I was done.
One year during my early teens, I decided, without consulting anyone, that we should cut our own Christmas tree. So one Saturday morning, I went up into the foothills east of our house with a hand saw and a hatchet. I picked out a nice 6 foot cedar tree, cut it down and dragged it home. I had seen some official flocked trees the year before and thought that was so cool. I decided I could do that myself, so I went to the greenhouse and bought a flocking kit, which consisted of a bunch of ground up white paper stuff which was to be mixed with water and then sprayed onto the tree. I set up a flocking station in the garage, using my mom's old Electrolux vacuum, exactly like this one (this may be the one), with the hose plugged into the exhaust, and with a spray gun attached, like the one below.
The old Electrolux was pretty powerful, and I got more flock on the walls and ceiling than on the tree. I wanted the flocking to be thick so it would look like the tree had heavy snowfall on it. You know how cedar trees are very thick and full- I ran out of flock and had to go buy more to get the job done. My dad, being Frank Frugal, had originally liked the idea of a free tree, but ultimately I probably spent enough in flocking materials to negate that theory.
Anyway, I finally got it done and dragged it into the house, getting flocking all over everything. We set it up on a make-shift wood stand my dad had helped me build, and decorated it with lots of those old foil ice sickles, big lights, and balls. I thought it looked pretty good, but my mom and dad were just beside themselves with how beautiful it was, and how great it was that I had done it myself. The mess I had made did not seem to be an issue. We all cleaned it up together. Christmas was very special for me that year. In fact, they liked it so much that they let me do it again the next year, as pictured below - no ice sickles, just red balls. Not bad, but the plastic tree skirt really makes it, don’t you think?
Looking back, I now realize that those cedar trees were pretty mundane and folksy in my mom's beautiful living room. I now have to believe Mom and Dad must have recognized that at the time, but, I never would have known it from their reaction. They just smiled and kept encouraging me, probably subconsciously bracing at the same time for my next crazy project.
I'm not sure I was as good a parent as they were in that regard, but I hope you all will be with your kids. It will give them tremendous levels of self confidence.