69: Our Alluring Tree

69: Our Alluring Tree

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Christmas

Our Alluring Tree

Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles.

~Author Unknown

There was only one weekend left before the big holiday, and we were running out of time to get our tree. My husband, Paul, begrudgingly accompanied me to a local tree farm and we sawed down a blue spruce tree. Paul hastily dragged the tree through the snow to our pickup and hoisted it into the bed, oblivious to the nostalgic value of this occasion. In less than five minutes we were home, rushing so that Paul wouldn’t miss the big game on TV.

Luckily, our son Reed was home when we arrived, so he seized one end of the tree and helped Paul push and shove the tree through our front door and then wedge it into the tree stand. I didn’t dare suggest spinning the tree to be certain the bare side wasn’t showing or the crooked trunk revealed. In a flash my two helpers disappeared into the basement to resume their preferred project, preparing the fishing tackle for winter storage. While they watched the Steelers, Paul and Reed changed or sharpened hooks on hundreds of wooden and plastic fish facsimiles.

I stood by the aromatic spruce, resignedly pinning on the lights and questioning why I was doing this alone. As I descended to the basement to retrieve the musty old boxes of ornaments, I observed Paul filing the hooks on a bumble bee, a ten-inch oblong lure, painted like its name with mustard yellow and black stripes, a brilliant crimson streak just under the plastic lip. In that instant my mind conjured a Christmas tree display I had visited last year at our local library. Each tree portrayed a unique theme. Some trees wore items that weren’t even actual ornaments, but collections that the decorator had acquired.

I spoke impulsively. “Why don’t we decorate our tree with musky lures this year?” It worked! Within the hour, our tree was bedecked with grandmas, believers, and spinners in kaleidoscope colors. I had never seen the guys participate with such enthusiasm in any holiday activity prior to this.

Conveniently, the lures come right out of the tackle boxes with built-in hooks, so there were no boxes to open, no tissue paper to unwrap, and no hauling boxes from the basement or attic. Most of the lures spend the winter hanging from little ledges in our basement.

We selected the lures for the tree based on color, their unique designs, or their nostalgic value. Just as families reminisce about traditional ornaments and their history, we talked about which lures worked in which lakes, the lure on which Reed caught his first fifty-inch musky, the lure that was lost in the bottom of a lake and found a year later by a friend of ours, and so on.

We also talked about the next year’s fishing vacations and which lures to retire or get repainted by Sandy the lure painter. Our tree looked beautiful with the radiance of a glitter perch, a mother-of-pearl shad, and a hot orange crawdad nestled among the boughs in the glow of twinkle lights. No garland was necessary either. We had the feathery pink, chartreuse, and iridescent gold streamers of the spinners to add texture and elegance.

Now that the tree was so macho, Reed even agreed to have his photo taken by the tree with his date for the Christmas dance.

The musky lure tradition persisted for sixteen years, with the exception of one year when our black Labrador retriever was a puppy and we feared he would be hooked. I simplified the holidays in other ways as well. Over the course of subsequent years I eliminated cookie baking, mailing greeting cards, and excessive shopping. I give gift cards, lottery tickets, and coveted cash — not so imaginative, but apparently appreciated. If need be, Amazon will ship all the toys I need for my granddaughters.

In 2011 the inventory of musky lures relocated to Ontario, now stored in Reed’s garage and used for fishing the St. Lawrence River. No sparkling glass balls or commercial trimmings could ever supplant those lures as prized Christmas tree ornaments.

~Cinda Findlan

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