Tuesday, December 17, 2019

O Christmas tree

I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, 
on Tuesdays.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

Tony and I went out to buy a Christmas tree, heading to the lot that we have gone to for the past couple of years. This tree lot is a 'pop up' sale on the fringe of a strip mall, run by Latino immigrants. The main road was congested, so we took a side road, thinking it would be a short cut around all the traffic, but it was not to be...we drove around and around, encountering one way streets and blocked access roads, and we ended up wandering through a neighborhood that was all new to us, laughing about how our supposed short cut had ended up being the longest journey possible. We were in no particular hurry, with no other goals or appointments; it was nice to have time to waste, and we stayed in good humor. Finally, after our circuitous adventure, we arrived at the parking lot - only to find that there was no sign of any Christmas tree sale. It was empty. GONE. 

My mind spiraled in fearful directions - why was the Christmas tree lot gone? Where had it gone to? Where were the immigrants? What was their year like? Where are these people now? Are they safe and warm? Are they okay? Why are they not selling Christmas trees, as they have for several years now? 

Surprised and wondering, we continue to drive around, meandering, looking for another lot. Some ten minutes later, we found another pop up lot, at another strip mall, in the same part of town, maybe two miles away from the earlier place. There was a big pit fire in the middle, where the workers were burning excess pine pieces, keeping themselves warm. Everyone was speaking in Spanish. We walked about the lot, looking things over, pointing at trees, whispering together, reading the price signs handwritten on rough boards in dark marker. Then, this adorable boy appeared, maybe 8 or 9 years old, and he began talking and negotiating with us, selling the trees - "What kind of a tree are you looking for? How big a tree do you need?," he asked in perfect English. Finding out what we needed, he led us to one section of trees and we selected one we liked. Throughout the conversation with us, the boy called out in Spanish with another man (his father? the owner?), conferring about our purchase. What a remarkable child he was - so at ease, confident, able, and helpful...so gregarious and pleasant...and fluent in two languages! He made our tree-buying such a happy and easy experience.

I have found myself thinking about this young immigrant many times over the past few days since we bought the tree, wondering  - Where does he go to school? I bet his teachers and classmates adore him. What is his daily life like? Does he work at the lot every day, or only that Saturday, when we were there? Is his family stressed? Does he feel welcomed and nurtured, here, in this wonderful country of ours?

He is, truly, a beautiful citizen.


  1. Dear Maureen, This story isn’t really about buying a Christmas tree, is it? It’s a beautiful reminder of how important our immigrant communities are to us regardless of what product or service. I love that your getting lost led you to this remarkable young man. I share your concern for him. It must be especially hard living in the capital w/ that other resident at its center.

  2. Maureen, your wanderings led you to a "remarkable" child. I have seen a few like this who are the translators for the family. Your last question is one that I would love to hear answered from the child's perspective.