The House Without a Christmas Tree

The House Without a Christmas Tree by Gail Rock Read Free Book Online

Book: The House Without a Christmas Tree by Gail Rock Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gail Rock
through the door with it, and strained to lift it upright on its wooden base. When we had it up, we collapsed on the sofa and sat there admiring it. My heart was pounding.
    â€œDoesn’t it look nifty?” Carla Mae asked.
    â€œLooks OK,” I said, sounding bored. “I didn’t really care whether I won it or not, but since I won it, it looks OK.”
    â€œIt’s almost up to the ceiling,” she said, looking around the small room.
    â€œNot bad for a free tree,” I said.
    Just then Grandma came into the room to see what we were doing. When she saw the tree, she stopped dead in her tracks and looked stunned.
    â€œIt’s from school!” I said excitedly, running over to her. “We guessed numbers from one to ten, and I won!”
    â€œYour dad is goin’ to have a fit!” she said.
    â€œWhy? It didn’t cost anything!”
    â€œThat’s not the point,” said Grandma. “My glory, it’s a beauty! Must be seven, maybe eight foot.”
    â€œWhy won’t Dad like it?” I asked.
    â€œMaybe it’ll be all right,” Grandma said, but she sounded as though she didn’t really think so. “We’ll wait and see when he comes home. Now get those boots off, you two, snow’s meltin’ all over the rug!”
    Soon Carla Mae and I were sprawled out on the living room rug, cutting paper decorations for the tree. We made colored chains, snowflakes, stars, circles, candles, bells and tiny Christmas tree shapes, colored them and put glitter on them. Then we drew a five-pointed star on cardboard, carefully cut it out and covered it with tin foil I had been saving from gum wrappers and Dad’s cigarette packages.
    We asked Grandma to come in and fasten the star on top of the tree, because I knew her strong old fingers could bend a hairpin tighter around the top branch than ours could. We held a chair for her to climb on.
    â€œOh, glory!” she exclaimed. “You expect me to get up there with my rheumatism? I’ll get dizzy.”
    â€œNo, you won’t,” I assured her. “We’ll hold you up.”
    Carla Mae looked at her moccasins as she climbed up on the chair. “Do you wear those because you’re a ‘character’?” she asked Grandma.
    Grandma looked down at her. “Who says I’m a character?”
    â€œMiss Thompson,” replied Carla Mae.
    â€œShe did, did she?” said Grandma, looking puzzled. “How’d Miss Thompson happen to say that?”
    â€œA character’s a good thing to be!” I said quickly, not wanting her to misunderstand. “It means somebody like … Columbus … who does what other people are afraid to do, and doesn’t give a fig if they laugh at him!”
    â€œHow come Miss Thompson was hookin’ me up to Columbus?” asked Grandma as she took a hairpin out of her hair and used it to wire the star to the top of the tree.
    â€œSome kid was making fun of you, so Addie punched him!” Carla Mae blurted out. I gave her a dirty look.
    â€œGot yourself into another fight, did you?” asked Grandma.
    I nodded.
    â€œWell, good for you!” she said. “Glad your dad taught you to box.” I was surprised at her enthusiasm. She finished with the star. “There!” she said.
    â€œThat looks nifty, Grandma. Thank you.” We helped her down. “When I grow up, I’m going to be a character too,” I said. “So’s Carla Mae.”
    â€œI am?” asked Carla Mae, looking very unsure.
    Just then I heard Dad’s pickup in the driveway.
    â€œHe’s home!” I said, and Carla Mae leaped across the room and grabbed her coat.
    â€œI gotta go!” she shouted, and was out the door before I could even say good-bye. I knew she didn’t want to be there for the fireworks that were about to happen.
    I went nervously to the kitchen with Grandma, and we waited for Dad. He came in

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