By David Kennard
Sitting at the top of our Christmas tree this year will be what my sons and I call Bear Claw Santa. The tree topper first made his appearance about four years ago after a trip to a green house to buy poinsettias for my wife.
While we were there, we took a look inside the Christmas shop, which was known to have almost every kind of Christmas ornament ever made.
They had angels and bells and feathery things and ornaments with every theme you can imagine; traditional crystal snowflakes, gold leafed candy canes, candles of all colors, marching bands, those old-fashioned water-filled lights that bubble when you plug them in. They had fish ornaments and bird ornaments and cats and dogs and giraffes and bunnies, some that made noises and some that just hung there.
So, when the boys and I saw the very mountain man looking Father Christmas, dressed in his fur coat and long beard, we knew it was time to replace that dumb old angel that had been marring the top of our tree each year.
OK, that may be a little harsh, but decorating the tree each year usually turns into a day-long repair project involving duct tape, hot glue and a fair amount of non-profanities.
Over the last few years of its life the once majestic angel that proclaimed the pending arrival of a glorious Christmas morning to all corners of our living room, had turned into a hunk of brittle brown-ish plastic that was more fire hazard than anything.
The sad little angel first made her appearance early in our marriage -- she may have even been there from the beginning (my wife would know) -- and each year as each child grew, a tussle usually broke out over who’s turn it was to put the angel on the top of the tree.
I have three sons and a daughter, so wrestling, hair pulling and screaming are pretty much par for the course when it comes to decorating the tree each year.
I probably shouldn’t say this but, thankfully, we’re down to just one child still at home, so by default the honor of placing the tree topper will fall to Sam this year.
Bear Claw the Christmas tree topper seemed to be the right fit for us, since we’ve done a fair amount of camping and hiking as a family over the years.
Let me explain.
The boys all grew up in Boy Scouts and love rugged mountain man stuff - guns, tomahawks, starting fires with flint and steel. We’ve also skied all over the West, including at Sundance Ski Resort, which is owned by movie star Robert Redford. Redford, as you may recall was in a film titled, “Jeremiah Johnson,” which includes a character named Bear Claw.
So, that’s where the tree topper got its name. I’m pretty sure Suesan still misses that old angel and I’m guessing a more traditional topper will one day take the place of the mountain man. But for now it’s Bear Claw’s domain.
The wife will, however, have a bigger voice in the actual tree that we select this year. The artificial tree we had for the past few Christmases didn’t make the move with us from out West last year. We’ve got a couple of smaller countertop trees that have been used to decorate other parts of the house, but our goal of downsizing has left us without an actual Christmas tree.
My guess is that we’ll go “au naturel” this year and try to support a local Boy Scout troop or service organization.
Suesan will tell you that I’ve got a pretty low bar for Christmas trees. My main objective is usually to find one that will be big enough to hold all the junk we throw on it -- and that’s it. Pretty much as long is it will fit in the door and not block the TV, I’m good with it.
David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.com.