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Cecil & Bea Put Up The Tree

The second installment

By Shelley CarrollPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 4 min read
A diamond in the rough

It was the week before Christmas and all was well at the little house on Gravel Street in Pond’s Cove.

Bea was working away in the kitchen, putting the sprinkles on the latest batch of shortbread cookies and Cecil was out at Bartlett’s Discount Xmas Tree Lot picking up this year’s masterpiece-in-the-making.

Bartlett’s specialized in offering something a tad bit more natural than an artificial tree, but not as full and tall as you might find in a real Balsam Fir. One might call the inventory “the spoils” of other trees, slightly refurbished from the excess branches and trimmings of what had once been the real deal. For anyone in the Pond’s Cove and area market for a Christmas-ish tree in need of some TLC that didn’t want to shell out a lot of cash, Bartlett’s was the place to go.  

A penny-pincher like Cecil was in his glory – he walked onto the lot knowing he’d be getting a good deal in the first place… and he was hell bent on making sure that he’d walk off the lot with an EVEN BETTER deal.

Hey there, Barty,” said Cecil to the lot proprietor as he sized up a sad looking little number with a $15 price tag. The little reconstituted tree stood about 5 feet tall and was sparse and dry. “Listen… how set are you on the final price? Look at this here little creature…. It’s a sin, really… i mean, seriously… it’s nothing to you… it’s really nothing to me… but I could take it home to the wife and we’d still have to fix it up. I can take it off your hands for $10. Whaddaya say?

Oh Cecil, you old so and so,” chortled Mr. Bartlett. “I’d sooner bury it in the backyard than sell it to you for that price!

Ah come on, man… it’s Christmas and all…” bargained Cecil. “It’s coming down to the wire. Only one more week to go. Do you really want to risk it being left here only for you to chuck in the compost on Boxing Day?

Tell ya what, chap,” offered the salesman. “If you’re willing to split the difference, I’ll even help you load it into the truck.

You, my friend, have got yourself a deal”. They shook hands, Cecil handed over two five dollar bills, a toonie and a loonie, and was gracious enough to offer “and you can keep the change” before they gently placed the little Charlie Brown-esque sapling in the truck bed. Then homeward bound he went.

Upon his return to the house, he was greeted with a crotch-sniffing nuzzle from Cooter VI. “Easy now, Buddy,” cautioned Cecil to the dog. “I may need those bits during the holidays.

How’d you make out?” came Bea’s voice from the kitchen.

Ah, wait till you see it, Bea! Best one yet!” he exclaimed.

Skeptically, Bea nodded and sighed.

You must have gotten quite the good buy, Ceese… judging by that sh*t-eatin’ grin on your mug.

You should have seen me in action, Bea! They don’t call me ‘The Hustler’ for nothing!

Oh Cecil,” she guffawed, “you’re the only one who calls yourself that”.

It’ll catch on. Anyway! Come on out to the truck and help me bring it in?

Sporting her bunny slippers and the Canada Goose jacket that Cecil had bought her at Frenchy’s, out to the yard she ventured with the love of her life.

Lo and behold: Cecil and Bea’s Christmas Tree!” he announced with a sparkle in his eyes and a smile from ear to ear.

Sweet gentle Jeezus,” Bea offered, hands on her hips and sucking her teeth. “Is this what you expect us to use for tooth picks after Christmas dinner?

Aw, my darling… it’s not so much what it IS but rather what it will BE when we’re done with it! Use your imagination!

I love you, Cecil, but sweet Mother Mary and all the saints, this is going to take some work. Why don’t we drag out the old artificial tree from the garage instead?

Sacrilege!” he intoned. “Blasphemy! This is OUR tradition, Bea! We take a diamond in the rough and we cleave it to perfection.

No, Cecil. Each year, you find the biggest turd in the tree lot and I polish it.

Po-tay-to, po-tah-to,” chuckled Cecil. “In any event, it’s our thing. Now kindly grab an end and help me bring this work-in-progress into the living room.

And so she did.

And into the house they trotted with nary a swear word to be uttered.

That would come later as the tree was erected and the lights were strung and the ornaments were hung.

Cecil popped the top on a can of beer and Bea fixed herself a cup of tea.

They sat on the couch with the dog in between them. They sighed. They smiled. They nodded at one another and raised their respective beverages in a toast.

We made it another year, Bea.

Indeed we did, Ceese. For better or for worse, for richer or poorer, and in spite of this crap you keep bringing home. We did a lovely job. And… I still rather like you.

And I, you.

And with that, they sipped their drinks and sat quietly, basking in the soft glow of the masterpiece they’d created together - not without aches and pains or challenges - but nonetheless a symbol of the life they shared and the family they’d raised.

Joy can be found in the saddest of trees.

And such is the case for Cecil & Bea.

More to come…


About the Creator

Shelley Carroll

Ms. Carroll is a 40-something year-old veteran public servant and mother of three adult children. She and her partner Hal live in Amherst NS with a sweet, anxiety-ridden rescue dog. Shelley loves running, red wine, and laughter.


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