I looked out the kitchen window one cold March morning and suddenly noticed a new tree standing in our backyard—a six-foot, straggly evergreen with bits of tinsel still clinging desperately to its branches. The tree had not been there the day before. Since we had neither a son named Jack nor any magic beans, we knew one of our mischievous friends had planted the tree.
“I know exactly who did this,” said my husband Dan. “It had to be Danny Sutton. That rascal loves playing practical jokes. Remember the time he took those squirt guns to that wedding?”
Dan soon confirmed that Danny was the culprit, and a new post-holiday tradition began. Each year Danny found a new spot in our yard to deposit his old Christmas tree, and it was often days later before we realized he had done it.
When he accomplished these feats, we had no idea because we never once caught him in the act. One of his most daring missions was the time he planted a decaying pine right by our front door and stuck it next to two thriving white pine trees. The tree looked so natural we didn’t notice it was dead until it began to lean slightly from the rain.
Danny even managed to dump an old Christmas tree on us one June at my 50th birthday party. We celebrated at our house, and the Suttons left the party a little earlier than the other guests. A few minutes later, I escorted my friend Mary, a quiet, soft-spoken lady, to the front door to say goodnight.
As I opened the door and stepped back to let her pass, a large amorphous mass appeared from nowhere and enveloped Mary, who screeched and stumbled backwards into me. Startled by her yell, I recoiled, pushing Mary forward at the same time. Our frenzied dance continued accompanied by loud shrieks and screams until our feet accidentally tangled, and we both flopped to the floor in a heap.
Dan and the other party guests rushed over to check on us. After they realized what had attacked us, they started laughing uncontrollably. There Mary and I sat brushing off pine needles from yet another wilted Christmas tree. It was six months after Christmas, but Danny Sutton had successfully stuck again.
“Now we know why the Suttons had to leave the party early,” said Dan as he helped us up. “Danny wanted to prop this tree in the doorway before he made his getaway. Too bad he didn’t get to witness all the excitement it generated.”
This year’s holiday season ended months ago, and we are vigilantly watching for Danny’s annual Christmas tree visit. After 20 years, the joke may finally be on Danny. I don’t know how or when he plans to deposit his tree this year, but I do know he may be surprised when he tries it.
I can’t reveal any of the details, but we have taken stringent precautions to protect our yard and house from any further Christmas tree dumping.
Judy DiGregorio is an Oak Ridge humorist and author. This column appeared in her book “Life Among the Lilliputians” (Celtic Cat Publishing, 2008).