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Oh, Christmas tree! - Erna de Burger-Fex

How my mom loved her Christmas tree that year. It was the most perfect tree the family had ever had. We joyfully decorated it and were very proud of our efforts – and of the tree.
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How my mom loved her Christmas tree that year. It was the most perfect tree the family had ever had.

We joyfully decorated it and were very proud of our efforts – and of the tree.

My parents owned and operated a variety store in Whitefish during the 1960s, and Mom worked happily in the store. She had great people skills and always chatted with her customers.

They appreciated her friendliness and would often tell her about the issues in their lives. Clients trusted her not to repeat their stories to others, and she never did.

Mom’s customers became her friends, as well.

My brother Frank and sisters Liesje and Lillian were still at home at that time. Franky was known in our family as a jokester, a kid who loved his friends and who was up for almost anything anyone suggested.

Pulling pranks was so much fun. Usually these had harmless consequences and provided much hilarity to all the young guys.

A female customer came into my parents’ store one day in mid-afternoon in December.

She was clearly very upset about something. Mom asked her what was the matter and the lady began to cry.

Alarmed, my mother tried to console her, not knowing what the problem was.

Was she or someone in her family ill? “No, no,” the lady blurted. “Can you imagine this? Someone cut down one of my tall beautiful spruce trees last night.”

She and her husband had planted those trees when they built their house years before. She had every right to be upset.

Little did Mom know that the lovely spruce in the living room was the tree that her customer had lost.

Of course, Frank said nothing and the rest of us didn’t know.
It was several months later by the time our parents found out where that beautiful tree had come from.

They were not amused, as you can imagine.

O Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
They’re green when summer days are bright;
They’re green when winter snow is white.
Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.

Erna de Burger-Fex is a writer and retired teacher. 



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