Unit 21 The Perfect Christmas Tree 完美的圣诞树
The fresh green smell of Christmas filled the house and the sight of the tree took your breath away. Striped candy canes(糖果)were evenly(均匀地)distributed and colorful paper chains, swans, lambs, donkeys and horses draped(垂下)aesthetically on the branches to compliment the red and gold bulbs. The white silvery winged angel stood at the very top watching over the entire tree. I also placed a cassette player for sortie Christmas songs. It was a beautiful tree; and I knew it deserved a good feedback.
Morris, that’s my husband’s nickname, said 1 was a fanatic(狂热分子)about my tree. I couldn’t help it. It was just my way. It was a lovely tree, from the angel on top to the miniature manger(马槽)my great grandfather made underneath. Grandma told us he carved it the first year they were married. She loved telling stories of knitting scarves(长丝巾)and mittens(手套)for presents. They lived on the plains in a small clay and lumber house for their first four years.
When Laura and I were children, story telling became an integral part of the family’s tradition. It was the climax of every night. We put the manger under the tree when the decoration was done and waited for Christmas Eve when Papa read the Bible stories. Only then were we ready to put the Baby(圣子,指耶稣)in the manger.
Laura has eleven grandchildren and we have two. Cindy and Mark, my daughter Joanne’s identical twins(同卵双生子)。are 14 years old and live in Kansas City(堪萨斯城).We’11 see them in February, but I do miss them all at Christmas. It seems a shame how families move away, but I am thankful for the invention of telephone.
That night I admired the tree critically. “Morris, don’t you think it’s a pretty tree?”
My husband looked up from his periodical and said,“yes, Cora, overall it’s a very nice tree, as always.”We plugged the lights in when the sun went down and ate peanut butter sandwiches and cheesecakes. I looked at the tree and couldn’t denote why it didn’t seem to be perfect enough.
“Cut it out,Cora,you’11 make yourself crazy. It’s a very nice tree, really. Come on look, it’s snowing,”his words led me to the opaque bay through the window. I sat down on the sofa(沙发)next to my husband and picked up the TV Guide. Just as Morris pushed the“()N”button to watch a basketball tournament(锦标赛),the doorbell rang.
The man who pushed the bell was covered with the new fallen snow. He was dressed warmly enough but he looked as though he had been outside a long time. “Please, may l use your telephone?”he asked.
There had been so many warnings about people doing horrible things once they got into someone’s house, my first thought was don’t let him in.
“I have had ear trouble, my car battery got busted(失败了的),”he said.“I had to walk about a mile before I saw your chimney smoke and the lights shinning in the window. I guess a lot of people aren’t home tonight.”He looked so cold and before I could evaluate him Morris led him into the hall and closed the door. He said his family was in the car wrapped in blankets. They were on the way to his mother-in-law’s house.
Morris took the stranger back to the car. The young couple and their three children had started out after work. According to their timetable(时间表),they were expected to arrive at their destination four hours ago. Thirty minutes after they left Morris and the man were back with the whole family. I had poured coffee and made a few strawberry sandwiches. Morris wasn’t able to get the car started.
The man carried four-year-old Katherine. She was named after her grandmother. I asked if she was Kathy(为Katherine的昵称).“No, I’m Katherine.”she said.
The little boy was only two years older than Katherine. He held shyly to his father’s coat. “Is this Grandma’s?”he asked his mother.
“No, honey, this is someone else’s grandma.”The young mother’s white wool stole(披肩)slipped from her dark hair. She bound the baby in 3 blue blanket and maybe it w3s the 1ight’s flare reflecting from the ceiling’s dome in the hall or maybe it was the special night, but just at that moment she looked like the Madonna(圣母玛丽亚).Her big brown eyes were filled with tenderness as she touched the baby. I felt what she felt. I am a mother myself, you know. She smiled at me, like the smile of an innocent angel, without any impurity(不洁).
“What a miracle you two are, to take us in.”she said.“1 was afraid something had happened to Kevin.”She laid the baby on my cherry patterned sofa. I poured the coffee and served the sandwiches. David, the little boy, and Katherine ate slices of bacon and toast. Then we a11 went back into the living room with more coffee and cookies(小甜饼).Morris made telephone calls and left messages on answering machines. doubtful(怀疑的)that anyone would answer on Christmas Eve.
I poured a cup of coffee for the young mother and asked her name. She smiled that Madonna smile and said. “Maryann.”
“Let me hold the baby while you drink your coffee.”I said.“I think I can remember how.”
“Look at the pretty tree, Mama.”The little boy said.
“Yes, it’s a pretty tree, honey.”I said,“Look at the manger. It’s a token from my great grandfather. He made it a long time ago.”
“Can I hold the little wooden baby?”He asked.
“No, David, just look at it.”His mother said.
“Of course, you can hold it.”1 said. I handed the carved baby Jesus(耶稣)to the little boy.
His little fingers felt the smooth wood and he kissed the carving. Then his father gently put the Baby back into the manger.
We talked and tried to decide what to do next. Kevin had kept calling his mother-in-law repeatedly. Finally, at 10：00 o’clock the man from John’s garage came with a red wrecker truck(救援车).Morris and Kevin went with him and at the minimum of twenty minutes they were back. The Kevin’s family were ready to proceed with their trip.
They all bundled into their warm clothing and Maryann kissed us goodbye. The baby had been sleeping most of the time when they were in our house. When she put his blankets around him, she handed him to me. She put the white stole back on her black hair and I looked at the baby. He opened his eyes and I knew he was too young to smile, but I told you—he did.1 would never forget the look on that infant face. Maybe it was the special night or, as I said, maybe the hall light cast a reflection, but in the blanket around the baby’s head, brightness glowed. They started out the door. “Wait!”I yelled. I put the carved infant Jesus into David’s hand. “I will never forget you.”I said.“Nor we VOU.”said the father.“or your kindness to strangers.”
As they drove out of sight Morris and I came back into the warm room. The Bible was on the coffee table where Morris pm it after he had read to me earlier. The draft from the door turned the fine Bible pages. We sat down and glanced at the holy book. “Anyone who takes care of a little child like this is caring for me!” I leaned back into my husband’s arms and looked at my Christmas tree. IT WAS A PERFECT CHRISTMAS TREE!