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Story Time: The Christmas Shimmy

Posted on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 at 3:55 pm

By Lorry Myers

Dragging out the Christmas decorations has always been a well-planned operation in my house. Hilary would sort the ornaments and Taylor checked the lights. Mariah was assigned to stocking duty while I stood there and told them all what to do.

Good times.

Their father, however, was rarely full of holiday cheer like the rest of us. Putting up the tree meant he had to move his recliner to make room. Randy was a neat and tidy guy who believed everything has its own place.

Especially his recliner.

This particular year, after much baaa and humbugging, Randy declared from his off-center recliner, that the tree the children had decorated, was flawed.

“The tree is leaning!” he announced, with a frustrated voice that usually showed up in stalled traffic.

Randy left the room and then came back with his level and measuring tape. These were Randy’s favorite tools, his assurance that his world would always be balanced and centered.

Who needs a level for that?

The children tried to tell their dad that the tree was perfect just like it was. By then, Randy had assessed the situation, calculating the length and width of the space provided. After that, he shifted the tree, centering it in the designated space.

That didn’t help anything.

With that small twist, the lean became worse, and Randy began barking orders. Get him some paper…get him a notebook…get him a magazine! This tree needed to be shimmied up!

Is that even a thing?

From underneath that once perfectly fine tree, Randy tried to assure his wide-eyed children, “Don’t you worry, Daddy just has to “shimmy” it up.” As he adjusted each leg of the tree stand, the tall tree slowly began to sway. When Randy was satisfied that one leg was level, he found the other legs were not. As he lifted each leg, the swaying increased until that tree was jumping and jiving in a crazy rhythm all its own.

A true shimmy if I’ve ever seen one.

The children looked at me like I had some kind of control over what would happen next. The tree lights flickered out as the plug shimmied from the socket. Ornaments were swinging and then the star fell from its peak, smashing at our feet.

There was no stopping that tree now.

It was then that Randy decided that he always hated that tree, and it was time for a new one. “A piece of junk” he called it; that and other names. By the sound of Randy’s voice, I was sure that his glasses were crooked, and his hair was sticking up.

I have seen that look before.

The children and I watched that tree rock and then, roll over, crashing and pinning Randy underneath. The kids began wailing and when Randy crawled out, his hair was standing up, and his patience was done. All around him lay shattered ornaments and torn tinsel. Tree branches hung loosely, attached by broken strings of lights. Randy grabbed that busted tree and dragged it out the front door and into the yard.

“What?” he said, when he came back inside and saw all the tears. “What?”

Chaos ensued as the children wailed away. Their dad assured them that he’d buy a new tree, bigger and better than the last, and new ornaments to go along with it. Until then, Randy would move his chair back into alignment with the rest of his world.

Like it was meant to be.

My children laugh about that wild Christmas shimmy all those years ago, and make fun of the tree that I now put up on my own. This tree is decorated with old memories and old ornaments that survived that long ago night, and the new ones added since. My tree stands crooked and leaning and for some reason, the lean on that imperfect tree is oddly comforting.

One Christmas shimmy is enough for me.

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