Holiday Excursion with My Brother

My brother and I didn’t always get along. Just a year-and-a-half apart, we were probably too close in age to be much more than adversaries, and too far apart to be as tight as twins. For a while, in the dim dwindling days of my high school career, we barely spoke. In fairness to both of us, we were about as different as two brothers could be, so the fact that we didn’t actually kill each other is a Christmas miracle in itself.

Once I went away to college, however, the distance helped our relationship, and time healed the perceived hurts we each felt the other inflicted. On my first or second Christmas home from Brandeis, we somehow ended up volunteering to pick up the family Christmas tree, so we hopped in the Blazer and made our way to Bob’s Tree Farm way out in Galway.

The day was bright and brisk, the sky a vivid blue, and backed by a strong wind. We recalled our shared childhood memories of going to get the tree as little boys. There is only one other person in this word who knows exactly what it was like growing up in my house, and that’s my brother. That’s a bond that can never be broken. On that December day, I started to understand that.

We arrived at Bob’s and got out. The smell of freshly-cut pine, of Christmas, brought a smile to my face, and I think my brother felt it too. We walked around a bit, not wanting to rush the moment. He stood up a few trees and we examined them, coming to an agreement on a fair specimen. The wind was cutting, and we squinted in the falling sunlight. Somehow it got tied loosely to the top of the car, and we were back on the road.

My brother was driving, and as gusts of wind pummeled the car I looked in the rearview mirror to see the tree swinging wildly back and forth. Before I could say anything it rolled off the car completely and into a ditch by the side of the road. My brother’s shocked face, and the image of the tree growing distant in the background, made me laugh. A lot. He backed up and by the time we reached the tree I was hysterical. He kept saying it wasn’t funny, but I could see he was trying to keep from smiling.

I hadn’t laughed that much with him since we were kids.

We got the tree righted, and better-secured than before, and made it back home without further incident. To this day, the memory still makes me chuckle. It was the beginning of our way back to each other, and the start of several holiday traditions that we have managed to maintain over the years. As strange as it may sound, there’s no one else I’d rather have as a brother.


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