Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Decorating Isn't Always as Easy as One, Two, Tree

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Decorating Isn't Always as Easy as One, Two, Tree

Article excerpt

The Ervolinos made it through another Thanksgiving, even though Dad's back went out, suddenly, on Thursday night. Then, on Friday, Mom's back went out, too.

Epidemic!

I stopped by for a visit around lunchtime and noticed they were both leaning precariously to one side.

I leaned at the same angle, to make eye contact with them.

"Have you two been drinking?" I asked. "Or, is the house tipping over?"

"Our backs," my father said.

My mother nodded. "Do you believe they went out at the same time?"

As a longtime back sufferer, I oozed sympathy.

"I know what that feels like," I said. "Rest! And try not to make it worse."

I also gave them the expert advice given to me, years ago, by Ed Begley Jr., a few years after he appeared on "St. Elsewhere."

"Put some heat on it for a while, then some ice," Begley recommended. "I'm not a doctor, but I played one on TV."

Around noon I offered to make my parents some lunch. They said no, no, no.

So I offered to go to the grocery store for them. They said they didn't need anything.

So I offered to fetch their Christmas tree from the shed. They said ... nothing.

SILENCE.

I asked if they'd rather wait until the following day.

SILENCE.

Next weekend?

SILENCE.

Finally, my mother shook her head and whispered: "We're not up to it this year."

Not up to it???

My eyes widened. "But ..."

"Billy, please," she interrupted. "We're old."

"But you've always been old," I insisted. "What's old have to do with it?"

I suppose I could have continued brow-beating her, but she looked so sad leaning to one side, I decided to hold my tongue.

Later, though, I took Dad aside and said, "What if I just bring the tree up from the shed and put it together for you? Then, you could decorate it a little at a time?"

"I don't think so," he said.

"A light here. A ball there. Little by little. When you FEEL like it."

He shook his head.

"But you always put the tree up on Thanksgiving weekend," I reminded him.

"I know," he replied. "But we're not up to it this year. And besides, you know we can't just bring it into the house. You're mother would have a fit."

True. Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, my father takes the box out of the shed, opens it and hangs all the tree pieces from the deck. …

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