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CHRIS ERSKINE

Dances With Christmas Trees

December 23, 1998|CHRIS ERSKINE

And now I'm down adjusting the stand, cranking on one screw, then the other, accomplishing nothing in just a short time.

"How's that?" I ask.

"Still crooked," my older daughter says.

So I adjust some more, grunting the way dads do when they put up a Christmas tree--a double-grunt here and a triple-grunt there. The bigger the tree, the more the grunts. This is probably a four-grunt tree. Pretty nice. With the discount, about 50 bucks.

"You all right, Dad?" the boy says, crawling under the tree with me.

"I could use a pillow," I say.

"OK, I'll get you a pillow," he says, shimmying back out again.

"You all right?" my wife asks, which always makes a husband a little upset, to be asked whether he's all right, just because he's grunting and sweating and muttering under his breath.

"I'm fine," I mutter.

"Are you going to be under there awhile?" my wife asks.

"Just through the holidays," I say.

As I study the tree stand, the little girl begins to wrap garland around my ankles and mistletoe around my toes. In a short time, my legs and feet are fully decorated.

"Hey, Dad!" the little girl hollers.

"Hey, what?" I ask.

"It's finally Christmas!" the little girl yells.

"Yeah, it's finally Christmas," I say.

Merry Christmas.

Chris Erskine's column is published on Wednesdays. His e-mail address is chris.erskine@latimes.com.

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