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Faster than a SmartPhone

Christmas is over and not a moment too soon. This is the first Christmas in years that we have not made a day of going into a forest of Northern Colorado to cut a Christmas tree. (Before you respond sarcastically, I am very aware I live in the mountains of Northern Colorado. However, we live on a grassy knoll, with few “Christmas” trees. Elaine chose this property, send your sarcastic emails directly to her.)

I wouldn’t advise following this Sipes family tradition, as it has its challenges. Getting the five of us to agree on what day to carry on the tradition can be a problem. Work schedules and teenage social schedules take precedent. Five people picking the tree can be problematic in itself.

I typically prefer a tree close to a parking area and not surrounded by deep snow. Boy Twin likes trees 10 feet taller than the ceiling in our house, at least five miles from the parked truck, buried in three feet of snow.

Ivy and Girl Twin insist on short-needled trees. The trees need to be perfect in shape. No trunk imperfections and plenty of branches.

Elaine likes long-needled trees. She also likes that perfect “Christmas” tree shape. She will tolerate few branches because it leaves room for larger ornaments.

As the twins got older, I would tire of the discussion (bickering) I would usually turn around after three miles, no longer caring what tree we cut. I loan Boy Twin my gloves, (He didn’t bring gloves.) and go back to sit in the truck. Elaine tries to convince the kids, this year is a long-needle year, and then she returns to the truck.

With this beervirus thing we were not able to mesh schedules this year. We bought a tree at the local grocery store. (Admittedly) It is a beautiful short-needled tree.

Here comes the over too soon part. This tree started dropping needles the day after we put it up. By Christmas Day, the branches would not support ornaments. Ok, it continues to support some ornaments. However, some ornaments, the tree it just threw to the floor, no longer desiring to support the ornament. By the time you read this, the tree will be in the pasture enjoyed by the livestock. Yes, the llama will eat the tree.

I had a fantastic experience with a young stranger Christmas Eve at the grocery store. I walked up on a young lady staring into the cooler marked “Cream and Half-and-half”. I was hoping to get into that cooler myself. (I will not ruin coffee with powder or fake cream.) The young lady just stood there, staring. One minute went by. Two minutes went by. Me being the polite, patient gentlemen that I am, I just stood there behind her. I began to notice things about her.

It was cold outside and I noticed the condition of her jeans. It was obvious to me she had financial difficulties in her life. Her jeans were tattered. The knees were all but gone, thighs were still intact but torn. The rear of her jeans had been completely destroyed by years of wear. The longer I stood the sadder I became.

Finally, this young lady reached in her pocket. I guessed she was going to count the coins in those tattered jeans. I was wrong. (Yes Ivy, there I said it. I can be wrong.) She pulled out a smartphone and held it up to her mask. She asked her phone, “How many cups are in a pint?” I couldn’t help it. I said, “Two.” As she turned I saw what I assume to be a pretty young lady behind and mask and some expensive-looking sunglasses and a sweatshirt advertising a local university. She asked me, “Really?” I said, “yes.”

She opened the cooler door, grabbed a pint of cream, and dashed off, leaving me standing there bittersweet. Sweet because I had beat her “smart” phone to the answer. Bitter from the knowledge that this poor creature thought it better to get sunglasses before she replaced those tattered jeans. I grabbed my cream and left. (I think Girl Twin might have those same jeans. Girl Twin lost her job because of beervirus. She didn’t save any money, and I’m not buying new jeans. She can just wear those crappy old jeans, she doesn't have a job anyway.)

Our Christmas was great. The entire group was here. I chose not to social distance and gave everyone a hug. With beervirus it doesn’t seem like we are together much anymore. Zoom classes, work schedules, the store going online, it seems like at least one or more of us is not home. We were all here for Christmas.

Boy Twin worked until 9:00 PM Christmas Eve. He arrived home around 10:15 hungry and not in the best mood.

He and I sat and talked while the others went to bed. We talked about girlfriends, jobs, Christmas, and changing from a kid to an adult, sometimes whether you want to or not. I went to bed wondering if I helped him or he helped me.

I found out later he and Girl Twin talked until the wee hours. I’m sure they haven’t done that in years. They may be twins, but they have different rooms, different friends, different interests, and different lives. It was great to find out the can still share time together. That’s what makes Christmas.

Twenty-years ago the construction company I was working for hired a young single father of a young boy. Soon after I moved on, but our paths crossed many more times. We found ourselves working together in another state. We were like brothers. Our birthdays were a couple of days apart.

A few years back, to celebrate our birthdays, we decided to skip work and treat ourselves to a birthday breakfast including whiskey shots, at 7:00 in the morning. That was a great day.

When my son passed, my friend helped me through a pretty rough time. He let me cry. He made me laugh.

We haven’t worked together for a while. He married and started another family in a town a hundred miles from me. We talk more than occasionally on the phone. We have lunch when we can, no whiskey.

Last week, I received a text from my friend. I’m not very good at noticing and returning texts on my phone. I called him the next day. He answered and I said, “Hey man, what’s up?” “My son’s dead.” I heard his words, I didn’t want to, but I heard him. I asked, “What did you say?” “He’s dead, I’m in (another state) to take care of his stuff. He has a dog. I wish you were with me. I won’t ask you to come, I will be home on Christmas Eve. I can’t believe how parallel our lives are.” That world had taken another child.

Some will say the child is in a better place, and I believe that. Nevertheless, as with the hole that my son left in me, the hole in my friend’s heart will never be filled. God, bless my friend and give him the strength he gave me.

Christmas will never be the same for my friend. Christmas has never been the same for me. Please hug your spouse, your parents, your children, and your friends. In just a blink, your Christmases can change, never to be the same. Spread some love.

From Your Daily Fiber, Ivy, Girl Twin, Boy Twin, Elaine and Monner; Merry Christmas and have a happy and safe, 2021 and beyond. God Bless you.

Our crazy lives!



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