Christmas Poem 2016: The Great Christmas Tree Disaster

For advent This year, I present an original poem that I conceived a few years ago and finally got out on paper. This is the first draft of a story intended to be a children's book. I hope you enjoy! Merry Christmas! 

Original illustration, First Draft ©Katelyn Grant, 2016

Original illustration, First Draft ©Katelyn Grant, 2016

It was the week after Thanksgiving in the town of Bronson Heights, 

And every house was stringing up a thousand Christmas lights.

You could glance, through frosted window panes, the smiling families

Singing carols to each other as they decorated trees. 


In the Johnson home especially, at 22 Hunts Lane, 

The drive aligned with lighted deer and giant candy canes. 

A massive wreath adorned the door, and up upon the roof

An animated Santa waved as reindeer pawed their hooves. 

The Johnsons were, year after year, the undisputed winners

Of the decorating contest Bronson Heights put on each winter.

Their incandescent light displays would dazzle all who saw,

And they blinked in time to music, which held people in awe.  

But each year, it was inside the house that drew the biggest crowd, 

Because through their picture window, they displayed, both tall and proud,  

A Christmas tree of monstrous size, nearly sixteen feet,  

That towered in the living room and galvanized the street. 


That year, their daughter Sylvia, whose curly, brown-haired head

Barely reached the lowest branches, looked at the tree and said, 

“I have the strangest feeling: either I am getting smaller,

Or every year, our Christmas tree gets just a little taller.”

“Now Sylvia,” her mother said, “you must remember why

We work so hard each year to have our Christmas tree so high.” 

“That’s true,” her father interjected, setting on the ground

The hundredth box of ornaments, and giving her a frown. 

“Don’t forget that it’s our job each Christmas to display

The greatest show in Bronson Heights for the holidays. 

A thousand people come to see our Christmas tree each year, 

And the more we decorate it, the more we bring them cheer.”

Sylvia sighed, and though she felt she wanted to debate it, 

She liked her parents happy, so she just said, “Let’s decorate it.” 


But as they unpacked their ornaments, she could not believe

The overweighted ratio of ornaments to leaves. 

There were ornaments of every shape and size you can imagine,

Circles, squares, and triangles; ballerinas, dragons,

Sleigh bells, cowbells, silver bells, bells made out of glass, 

Tongue-depressor photo frames that Sylvie made in class.

They had hand-made, store bought, crass-commercial, antiques you couldn’t find

Unless you had a credit card, and spent lots of time online. 

There were stars, and ships, and ice cream cones, vegetables and trucks,

Jedis, moonpies, Santas, Snoopys, spectacles and ducks.

They had wooden whales and cotton snails and stockings made from flannel, 

Leather hearts and plastic darts, ceramic cocker spaniels,  

And poster beds and talking heads and some that looked like cheese, 

Bows and boots and butterflies that fluttered in a breeze. 

They had twisty, squishy, light and heavy, baubles large and small, 

And both Sylvia's parents were intent to use them all. 

Some they glowed and some they spun and others just sat still, 

And it seemed to take a hundred hours to hang them on…until. 


They took a break and stepped back, and Mr. Johnson cried with glee,

“We really did it - there’s so much, you can barely see the tree!” 

And sure enough, the tree was stuffed so full from trunk to top,

The branches drooped from all the weight and looked like they might drop. 

“We missed a spot,” Sylvia pointed, high above her head, 

to where the angel watching perched, her feather wings outspread. 

Just beneath her cherub feet, a spot of green was bare,

And Mr Johnson answered, “I’ve got just the thing for there.” 


From the now near-empty box he produced a silver orb, 

About the size of Sylvie’s head, hung from a hefty cord. 

On its shiny silver surface, their three names were affixed,

But when Sylvia saw it, she felt her gut constrict.  

“It’s perfect,” cooed her mother, “and just the thing we need

To win first place again and force the others to concede.” 


So Mr. Johnson climbed the ladder to reach the very top, 

But as he stretched his quavering hand, Sylvie hollered, “Stop!

“Don’t do it, Dad!” she begged of him, “if you put on that last ball,

The whole thing will imbalance, and our Christmas tree will fall!” 

“Sylvia, hush!” her mother said, “we know what we are doing.”

“But Mom,” she whined, “can’t you tell the tree is kind of skewing?” 

Her parents both ignored her pleas as her dad reached for the bough, 

And when he hung the ball upon it, her mother whispered, “Wow.”

It truly was a gorgeous sight, beautiful and gleaming, 

But it only lasted seconds before the whole tree started leaning. 


“Dad look out!” Sylvia screamed, as Mr. J jumped clear, 

And the weighty laws of gravity fulfilled her greatest fear. 

The Johnsons yelped and ran for cover as two hundred pounds of bark

Jingled as it toppled, and the Christmas lights went dark. 

Glass and wood and plastic rained, like winter snow from clouds,

It crashed through their picture window, with an echo long and loud.

And all their precious ornaments shattered on the floor,

As the Johnsons made a barricade behind the kitchen door. 

“You were right,” her mother sighed, “I guess we overdid it.”

“We had too much,” her father said, “it’s painful to admit it.”

“I love you both,” Sylvia said, “but honestly this contest

Has become too much for both of you only about conquest.

There’s other ways the three of us can celebrate the season,

And being best should never be our motivating reason.” 


That was the first of several years the Johnsons won no prize, 

And if you drive past number 22 today, you’d be surprised. 

There are no deer, no candy canes, no Santa in his sleigh, 

The only lights you’ll see there are just small, modest displays. 

Some years they choose not to get a Christmas tree at all, 

But when they do, they only hang the largeish, silver ball. 

The other ornaments they gave away or sold online, 

And if you asked them how they felt without them, they'd say fine. 

And when they now buy Christmas trees, per Sylvia's advice,

They're bottom heavy, tied with string, so that they won’t capsize.