Christmas 1972. That’s when I found out size matters.
In August of that year, I reported to Postgraduate School in Monterey to begin pursuit of a master’s degree in aero. I had been gone a lot the two previous years, and as much of a struggle as it was for me to resurrect the parts of my brain that knew how to study, my kids had to learn how to handle me being in the house every night. By December, I had learned to cope with the studying, and my six-year old daughter and four-year old son had even stopped asking their mother if she was sure I was their daddy. On a Saturday morning, a coupe of weeks before Christmas, I decided the kids and I would go to tree farm. We’d chop one down. Together. A real bonding opportunity. With lunch at McDonalds to boot.
The tree farm was on a steep slope. Of course the bottom of the slope was denuded of trees. I hired a Sherpa to take us up to where there were still trees to be had. Half way up the slope, both kids spoke as if with one voice, “Let’s just go to McDonalds.” But we were on a mission. To bond. The whining wasn’t too bad, and we sawed one down. And with the five-foot nine-inch tree, a full three inches taller than me, sticking out the trunk of the car, and with happy meals in front of them, we finally experienced the first moments of bonding that day. We got back to navy housing area and brought the most special Christmas tree I could imagine in to the apartment. My wife said, “It’s so little.”
I had flown off the USS Hancock in the Tonkin Gulf during 1971 and early ’72, but I had to come home to California to get shot down.
So I left the kids with their mother, drove into Monterey, and scoured the tree lots for the biggest, honkingest tree for sale. It was longer than the ’68 Impala. And I had to cut two feet off the top to get it to fit under the ceiling. The wife and kids had their tree. I set mine up in the back yard.
Size matters. I found that out forty-three years ago.
Merry Christmas and Blessings in ’16.