(from December, a long time ago...)

I wish you all of you could see our Prosperity Tree.

Normally, Paul and I purchase a Charlie Brown tree from Star Supermarkets
for $4.99 plus tax and decorate it with lots of old used decorations from
Long's Drug Stores I bought 10 years ago.  We even take pride in recycling
our tinsel from year to year!  We always test the lights before we put them
on the tree because it's such a hassle to take them off when one bulb is
burnt out.  I know this is hard for you to believe (all of you folks living
in San Francisco and Kahala), but you see, when we're done, the Charlie
Brown Tree has morphed into a FABULOUS Christmas tree.  It's like the ugly
duckling turning into the swan thing.  I love the effect. I also love the
price.  It's a form of Chinese Joy, like Hershey Chocolates at half price.

This year, Paul put his foot down.  "WE'RE NOT GETTING A CHARLIE BROWN
TREE", he said.  Just like that, with the same tone of finality that he used
when he went to Ireland with his mother.

"But honey", I gently argued, "the rest of the trees cost $60 and look fake.
Real pine trees look like Charlie Brown trees.  The manufacturers just shave
these other ones into cones".

He didn't buy it, stubborn thing that he is.  So I suggested that we both go
to the store first thing in the morning and see for ourselves just what was
there and how expensive they were.

Well, the next morning came and we went off to Star Markets at the crack of
noon (when we awoke).  They had put a new shipment out that day.  I found a
couple of wonderful Charlie Brown trees that smelled of California pine.
These were $7.99 plus tax.  Paul saw the price tags on the rest.  Even he

When suddenly, out of nowhere appeared a most fabulous looking tree.  And,
it was only $19.99, a reasonable compromise from $60.  Although I would have
been happy with my Charlie Brown selections, I bowed to his wishes like a
good Chinese wife.  We bought it, put it in the car and went for ice cream
in the mall (for those of you on the mainland remember it's about 70 degrees
here in Honolulu).

When we took it home, we discovered that we had bought all new, very
expensive decorations at Liberty House last year at the after Christmas
sales for 75% off!  We had even bought NEW lights so we wouldn't have to
bother searching out and replacing the burnt out bulbs in our 10 year old
lights.   What a wonderful gift we had given to ourselves.  This was upscale
Chinese Joy, like giving Godiva Chocolates (at half price).

Over two nights, we decorated our new tree with light jazz holiday music in
the background and the smell of cinnamon bread, spam and pine in the air.
It was a new experience, because these bulbs and glass creations were
heavier and bigger than our old Long's Drugs 10 for $5 kind. They also
weren't tarnished, so we didn't have to spend time turning each one so the
tarnish wouldn't show.  We also decided that less was more, so out went the
used tinsel (and the tradition of pruning out the old dried twigs from last

When we were finally done.  We sat on the couch and gazed quietly at our new
Tree.   She was magnificent.  More Cinderella.  Less Ru Paul.  You know the
difference.  Sublime.  She is our Prosperity Tree symbolizing our intent for
the New Year.  She is the new tradition for our home.

By the way, we didn't throw out our treasured old tinsel or tarnished bulbs.
There's still a place for them in our hearts.  Maybe we'll give them to some
poor people someday.  But for now, they're tucked away in our garage waiting
for the day when perhaps we'll have two trees.  One to remind us of the
hungry years when Matt decided to invest in his artistic career.  And one to
remind us of the adventures to come.

Happy Holidays to everyone.  Aloha,

Auntie Matilda and Auntie Paula