It’s not an actual tree, you understand. It’s a metal stand about a foot high. Its spine has fittings into which metal branches of three varying sizes slide. From those branches hang cute little wooden pears (see photo). There’s a metal partridge on the top. It’s a holiday decoration, inspired by “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” It’s very special, because my true love gave it to me, just like the song says.
When I brought our holiday decorations down from the attic this past year, I found the branches and the pears. The metal stand was nowhere to be found. As you might imagine, the branches and the pears aren’t much good without the stand itself. As all Boomers know, the surest way to find something you’ve lost is to buy its replacement. But if you Google “partridge in a pear tree holiday decoration,” all sorts of actual tree ornaments come up. My true love, the catalog queen of the western United States, has no idea which catalog she ordered this from.
I’m lucky it’s just a pear tree because its absence will only aggravate me every December. One of my friends is missing a knife. Every time he walks into his kitchen, the first thing he sees is the knife block with an empty slot, reminding him that he misplaced a knife. Nor does he want to buy a whole new set of knives to replace the one he lost.
I don’t want to talk about how Baby Boomers get old and forgetful. That’s been done. What I want to know is, where do these things go? I mean, where the heck could you possibly lose a knife? It’s not like my friend took it to the office one day. It’s not like he stuck it into his ex-wife, as much as he’d enjoy that. Theoretically, even if we lose something, we should be able to retrace our steps and find it again.
Really, there aren’t that many places a cast-iron pear tree with a partridge on top could be. When I put the holiday decorations away the year before, I probably found the pear tree didn’t fit into any of the boxes and just put it up in the attic by itself, near the holiday decorations department. So why isn’t it there now? I’ve climbed up to the attic three times now, moving boxes to see if it fell behind one or off a shelf into the insulation, but there’s no sign of it. It’s too big for me to have accidentally thrown it away, and the partridge on top did not suddenly come to life and fly away, carrying the rest of the tree with it. I think.
There’s only one way I can explain this. As Sherlock Holmes once said, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” So I can only assume that aliens are conducting teleportation experiments, snatching parts of our culture from our homes and analyzing household objects to try and figure out how we think. My friend’s knife, socks that disappeared from driers, your junior high school diary, kitchen implements whose purpose you never really understood, and my pear tree are all going to be returned someday. It’s going to be like the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind when everyone meets up at Devil’s Tower.
That’s a rummage sale no one’s going to want to miss.
A personal note to one of my most devoted readers: happy 92nd birthday, Dad!