"Dear Lord, if for some unknown reason you planned to take our wonderful
mother, Jeanette, from us sometime
soon, anyway. Please let it be now before we have to put up these damn
...spoken by all prior to Christmas tree decorating 12-6-03
Last year I compared decorating my mother in law’s yard for Christmas
to a stint in prison. This year I want to
take a fresh and more positive approach to this little exercise and compare
it to a favorite book of mine,
"Animal Farm." All the makings for a bright and cheery holiday scene
with lots of happy and fuzzy animals and
warm feelings, right?
For those of you who haven’t read the book, "Animal Farm" used
a farmyard story as a parable for the bloody
Russian Revolution. There are animals that represent Joseph Stalin, Vladimir
Lenin, Peter the Great plus animals
that represent the working class and the police. It is a grim tale made
all the worse as I love animals. By the way,
I have Mother Walseth’s approval for this week’s column.
Jeanette appeared before us in the form of a police dog that afternoon
(the oppressive dictator). Daughter
Jill, fellow son-in-law Craig and I showed up in the form of draft horses
(representing the working class). We
understood we were to work hard and keep quiet. All three of us walked
in lock-step hanging lights, carrying the
Christmas cut-outs for the yard scene and generally averting eye contact
with Mother Stalin (oops, I mean
Walseth). Jeanette was directing us with her little scepter, a three
tine garden cultivator on a stick, which she
also used handily for reaching high places and poking us if we worked
too slow, begged for water or stopped to help a fallen comrade. One of our ranks, Craig, had tired of this grim Holiday oppression
and stood up before all of us and said, "Jeanette, the net lights are high enough, we can’t get them any higher." Jill
and I uncomfortably shifted from hoof to hoof (remember we’re draft horses) while Jeanette took Craig aside for re-education.
I don’t know what happened to our fellow equine but we overheard threats about a glue factory and horsemeat. Craig became
quiet and compliant again but he never really seemed the same.
"Animal Farm" never continued past Stalin’s purges so the fall
of communism was not mentioned. In our little fairy tale however, my Aunt Joann represents the freeing influence of democracy.
Stepping from her car, she announced that the yard looked great, our task was complete and that our oppressive union should
end. This left our cold, cruel and loveable leader mystified just long enough for the workers (played by we three draft horses)
to rise up and to burn the ladders and leftover lights. We then hid Mother Walseth’s scepter on top of shelf, beyond
her reach which left her without power. Quickly we parted the Red Curtain and ran for freedom where could enjoy the holidays,
capitalism and perhaps a fine American beer.
The truth is that decorating was fun and being together even better.
We all reveled in the glow of the lights and the speed at which they caused the electric meter to spin. It was a heartwarming
day and a joyful day but most of all it was a day that we wouldn’t see again for another three hundred and sixty-four
days. That should give me just enough time to defect, comrade.