Sunday, December 12, 2010

Turn It Into Firewood

You never can tell which way a tree will fall; one way or the other, right? Like yesterday, when what was supposed to be a bucolic family outing to get a Christmas tree turned briefly, into an odd clash of wills between me and my husband. 

This flash of a clash circled around to let the dog off the leash or not to let the dog off the leash. Important stuff, right? As you can see, the dog was let off the leash. But only after Michael and I had a voices-raised moment about it, while Claire hovered behind a stand of trees with Chewy on the leash. This blast came out of the blue, like a gust of wind. It was not our shiniest moment. 

I've dubbed it, Horrible Parenting 101.

I can count on one hand the times Michael and I have raised our voices to each other over the years. Our MO is to retreat to our corners until the storm clouds of disagreement pass. We're not yellers. But yesterday we were kinda yelling in the middle of a stand of trees, while other families, a few rows over, searched for their special tree. 

It felt (as much of my life does) like a movie, or a play. There was Michael's face in front of me and Claire behind a tree (stage left) holding the dog's leash. I knew it was not the right place or time to be going over the merits of leashing one's dog. But, here's the odd thing; I didn't care. I didn't care that other people could hear us, or that the picture-perfect family outing was being smudged. 

Wait! Of course, I cared. But being one who often shuts down in an attempt to avoid conflict, this shouting was a bit of a breakthrough. I needed to voice my opinion and apparently, so did Michael. 

I think I heard violins in the background. 

It was over as quick as it started. The dark moment had passed. Claire came out from behind the tree. Chewy raced ahead of us with another dog, Abby. We found our tree. Michael cut it down. We sang the first verse of Oh Christmas Tree. We went home.

I'm pretty sure Claire survived this moment of discord between her parents. If not, I chalk it up to good material for her one-woman show or an expensive heart-to-heart with a future therapist.

Maybe you grew up in a house where people burst forth with shouts, then sat down to eat and be merry together. I could use a little of that. When I was a girl, I took a raised voice to mean the end of the world, or worse, divorce. Now I see that it sometimes comes with expressing yourself, maybe sometimes louder than you normally would. Even, GASPnot in the privacy of your own home. I can hear my mother clicking her tongue as I type this. 

(Sorry, Mom.)

Gusts will arise, trees will fall...

turn it into firewood.


  1. Your words keep bringing to mind the words of other great writers like yourself. Please go listen to BEN HARPER (specifically the album, Diamonds on the Inside)
    The opening to one of my favorite songs he sings:
    "Amen Omen"

    What started as a whisper,
    Slowly turned in to a scream.
    Searching for an answer
    Where the question is unseen.
    Your consideration of the place and space of voice made me ponder how he sings about it...

  2. Thanks so much for this thoughtful response. (I stumbled upon it today as I was thinking, "What have I been writing this week anyway?" )


    I welcome hearing from tribal members and love being guided to great writing/music etc.

    xo b