Charlie Brown Christmas tree?

Finally! The Christmas tree is up. Now we’ll see how long it stays that way.

Actually, our artificial tree has been up since before Thanksgiving. But we were out of town for much of that holiday week, so we didn’t get a chance to decorate it.
Then one day we couldn’t find the cat. Where was Ziggy? We looked in all of his usual hiding places – behind the TV, in the closets, under the futon. Then Joe came into the room from just the right angle and found Ziggy – lying in the branches halfway up the Christmas tree, looking out the window.
The “fun” hasn’t stopped since. He and the puppy Lizzie chase each other ‘round and ‘round the house, and it usually ends with the cat flying into the middle of the tree.
We’ve had several cats, and the tree has never been a problem before. So we figured that once the lights were strung on the tree, that would break up the party.
This weekend, we managed to get the lights up.
But what about ornaments? What if the merry chase knocks the tree over?
We spent hours rummaging through Christmas boxes Saturday night. There are the beautiful Hummel ornaments my former mother-in-law gave us one year before she died. Then there are the Peanuts ornaments that my sister-in-law, their biggest fan, added to our Christmas decorations. The list goes on and on, special ornament after special ornament. The problem is that all of them are breakable – and irreplaceable.
So we went on to the real possibilities. On our tree are all the ornaments Joe ever made in school, including a gingerbread man made out of corkboard. There are little wooden ornaments that children have given to their teacher, Jenny. There’s the plaid stuffed pig that came from one of Jenny’s good friends years ago. A few souvenirs from our travels were suitable, a stuffed London bobby, a Big Ben, and an Underground (subway) logo. Four Nutcracker brothers hang out in desirable locations.
It’s an odd-looking tree, probably much like trees we had when the kids were small and the glitter of Christmas was an irresistible temptation.
The only thing that shines this year is the lights. Everything else is stuffed, wooden, or paper. It looks a little like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, a few strings of lights and very little else.
But one day later, and it’s still standing.
Of course, we’ve found one branch chewed off of the bottom of the tree, and two of our dogs munching on it on the couch. One ornament was swatted off the tree, but no harm, no foul.
A teacher at Jenny’s school in Oxford sends around funny e-mails this time of year, and one last week was about cats at Christmastime. There are pictures of cats in Santa hats, with bows on their heads, reindeer antlers. You get the idea. Then there are the inevitable pictures of the cat in the Christmas tree. The last picture has a grouchy-looking cat with a Santa hat, saying, “You dress me up like this. Of course, I’m going to get in the tree.”
We’re getting out the camera and the antlers. If the cat’s going to get in the tree anyhow, we might as well make fun of him while he’s doing it.

T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at