All the Trimmings

This is the Christmas where the old man says if you’re lucky, maybe Santa will bring you some coat-hanger wire, or some broken glass, or one of those yardsticks they hand out for free at the hardware store. You know about Santa Claus already, don’t you? Yeah, you know about Santa, you know about Christmas.

Your old man is taking you and your mom out to cut the tree. Your mom thinks she’s coming down with the flu. It’s cold, it could snow. Your old man puts the chain saw that belongs to the man he used to work for in the back of the truck. He smells fresh, like liquor. Your mother is bundled up, she looks bad. She gets in the truck with you. The old man goes to the tailgate and drinks from a bottle he hides in his jacket.

Out in the woods on the logging roads the old man looks up along the loblolly crowns, almost driving off a small cliff into a sandpit. He likes to cut down tall trees and then saw off the last ten feet of crown. The ceilings in your house are eight foot. The extra two feet are for mistakes. The old man says the trees here suck. He drives to a place where the signs say NO TRESPASSING and passes through.

Up in the road are some dogs. They’re skittish and look at us like we’re supposed to take them somewhere. I wish I had a gun, your old man says.

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