christmas1

Tree Fallings
by Kimberly Gotches

Around midnight, I woke to heavy footsteps and a thud. Santa! I tiptoed into the living room. Instead of a pile of presents, our tree covered the floor, flattened like someone sat on it. Our angel topper’s halo was cracked in half, two golden crescents strewn atop a layer of shattered white lights.

“I didn’t do it,” I told Mom. “Maybe Santa knocked it over?”

“Dad lost his balance again.” Mom stared at one of his bottles on the table with the milk and cookies.

That’s when I heard the snoring. Dad was sleeping next to the tree.

I tried to pick it up to make Mom stop crying, but it was so heavy and my hands were too small. I called out for Dad to help, but he didn’t wake up. Shoulders sagging, Mom swept up the broken pieces around Dad.

***

“I need something to hold it up,” said Mom.

“I don’t know, look in the garage.” I covered my ears before the door slammed behind Dad.

The garage was a scary place. Mice camped out there. My misguided memory is of huge rats the size of my head. But Mom was like Clara in the Nutcracker, braving the Mouse King and his troops. She marched in and returned with thick, white rope. She tied the rope through the curtain hook and secured the tree.

***

Rick, Mom’s new boyfriend, witnessed the next Tree Falling. I heard Mom cry and covered my ears before the door slammed behind Rick.

When I uncovered my ears, I heard the footsteps return.

There was Rick with a toolbox in one hand and a piece of wood in the other. He drilled the tree stand firmly to the wood.

Although it wobbled, it never fell again.

SOURCE: This piece is drawn from the author’s  in-process memoir on holiday recollections. Follow Kimberly’s website to see when this memoir is available.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We all go through stretches of life where we are wobbly, and sometimes we fall, multiple times. I know if I’m down, I have the strength to pick myself up. I also know I have support when I can’t do it alone. These are lessons my family has taught me.

GOTCHES

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A former youth services librarian from Chicagoland, Kimberly Gotches now writes and performs in New Mexico – the Land of Enchantment. She has nearly 10 years of experience telling stories at libraries, daycare centers, and schools. Before that, she dedicated herself to older adults as a Longterm Care Case Manager, leading original storytelling, improv, and writing workshops. A winner of the Intergeneration 2013 Storytelling Contest, Kimberly writes original stories that celebrate the benefits of intergenerational relationships. She draws from coursework in creative writing, acting, movement/dance, expressive art therapy, and improvisation to offer dynamic stories through both print and performance.

PHOTO: Christmas 2012 in Lombard, Illinois, with the author costumed as a tree and her stepdad, Rick. Rick’s love and support have helped more than just the Christmas tree stand tall!