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A Pink Dress and Golden Wings

Story ID:6603
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Oak Park IL USA
Year:1948
Person:My Dad
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Author Note: This story appeared in Heartwarmers.com today. It's a revised version of an old story of mine but with a new title. The editors selected the title, and I love it!


A Pink Dress and Golden Wings

In the 1940s, we city folk didn't cut down a tree in the fields, but kept our own tradition.

On a cold December evening, Dad announced that it was time to find a Christmas tree. My two younger brothers and I grabbed heavy coats, hats, gloves and snow boots, and ran to our 1939 Plymouth. Our
excitement bubbled over in giggles and hoots.

The corner lot was normally empty. But in December, dozens of trees magically appeared, lined up like soldiers going into battle.
A string of electric light bulbs ringed the entire lot, so customers could see the trees with no problem. The proprietors had erected a
wooden teepee-like frame to display two dead deer and a black bear in a prominent corner. Animal rights groups didn't protest in those
days.

My brothers and I marched round and round the frozen animals.

"Go ahead, touch it," Howard dared.

My hand reached within inches of the thick, matted fur, but I quickly drew it back."You first," I challenged, but Howard only circled the animals, hands behind him. Meanwhile, Dad walked the rows of trees, pulling a few upright, shaking the snow off. He called to us, and we crunched across the frozen snow-packed ground.

"No," we chorused. "It's not big enough." We followed Dad and thumbed our noses at several others. "Not big enough," we said, stamping cold feet to warm them.

The owner ambled over, so bundled up he looked akin to the dead bear. He kept a cigar clamped in his teeth and wore gloves with the fingers cut off, so he could peel off dollar bills from the stack he carried when making change.

Dad shook the man's hand and said, "OK, let's see the good trees now."

The burly man moved the cigar from one side of his mouth to the
other, rolled his eyes and finally gestured for us to follow him.

We moved across the pine-scented lot to a brick building. The man opened a door, and we tromped single-file down a long flight of concrete steps. Dozens of trees leaned against the walls. Dad
pulled out one after the other until he found a tree that we three children deemed "big enough."

Silence now, as the serious part of this adventure commenced. Dad and the cigar chomping man dickered about the price. Finally, money changed hands, and Dad hoisted the tree and we jostled one
another up the steps to be closer to the green treasure.

Dad fastened the tree to the top of the car with the rope he'd brought with us. The boys and I knelt on the back seat, watching to make sure the tree didn't slide off the roof of the car during the short drive.

Once home, Dad hauled the tree up three flights of stairs to our apartment and put it on our small outdoor balcony. Several times a day, I peered through the glass door to check that no one had stolen it. Why I thought someone would climb to the third floor to steal our tree is a wonder.

Days later, Dad carried the tree inside and tried to put it in the stand, but it was no use. The tree was too tall. It should have been no surprise, as it happened every year. Dad found his favorite saw and cut several inches off the tree trunk. When he put it in the stand, it rose like a flagpole, straight and tall, nearly touching the ceiling. There was a collective "Ahhh" from the entire family.

Dad hummed a Christmas tune as he strung the many-colored lights, then Mother helped us hang sparkly ornaments, and we finished with strand upon strand of silver tinsel. Finally, Dad climbed a step-stool and placed the last piece on the top. What joy to see our special angel with the pink satin dress and golden wings. There were times I could swear she smiled at me.

That sweet angel got lost somewhere over the years. Most likely, she'd become tattered and torn, and Mother discarded her.

Now, my husband brings our tree upstairs from a basement storage closet. Artificial, always the same height, never needs to be made shorter. It's easier, but I miss those cold, snowy excursions to the tree lot with my brothers.

I still put an angel on top of the tree.
She's nice but not quite the same as the one with the pink dress and golden wings.

Family traditions may change, but the memories last forever.They are what makes us the people we are today.