Middleburg, Virginia, Christmas 2010. Very horsey, is Middleburg. Liz Taylor lived there when she was married to Senator John Warner. (Photo courtesy middleburgonline.com)
Robin's Note: I asked you to send me your own tales of Christmases past. This one comes from a reader who tells the story of how a "found object" lifted his spirits one holiday long ago.
"The Magical Discard" by a Reader of Robin Chapman News
"A few years back, I was planning to spend Christmas with my family in Europe after my girlfriend and I had parted ways. But, something came up and I had to scrap my plans a couple of days prior to leaving. As it was already nearly Christmas, I decided not to purchase a tree.
Then, on Christmas Eve morning, I took my dog for a walk in Middleburg, an attractive small town in the Virginia horseback country near Washington, with an English feel to it. We walked around for a while and past the town’s community center. In the back, I could see an already discarded Christmas tree lying on its side next to a refuse container.
I thought to myself, Noooo, I couldn’t, could I? I walked further down the street but was unable to get the tree out of my mind. We turned around and went back. The tree was approximately eight feet tall, still in great condition, and perfectly shaped. I knocked on the community center’s front door to ask whether I could possibly take it, but everyone had already left for the holidays.
I quickly got my car, tied the tree to the roof and then drove off, unsure whether it was really okay for me to take it. I remember once reading that even discarded property destined for the landfill or incinerator is still a legal possession of the home/property owner while on their premises. [Editor's note: the law may differ from state to state in America, but the detectives on those police shows always say it is legal for them to go through the trash, once it has been set out!]
So, legally speaking, I "appropriated" the discarded Christmas tree and headed for home. Once there, I immediately began to decorate it.
I filled it with white electric lights, red bulbs, artificial but authentic looking poinsettia branches, real tree candles (not to be lit), and ornaments that I had collected over the years. After I was done, around the time it began to get dark, I turned the Christmas tree lights on and stepped back to see how it turned out. I was amazed to see that this previously used and questionably acquired tree ended up being the most beautiful Christmas tree I had ever had. It looked magnificent. In the following days, I received lots of compliments from my friends ... and the tree was difficult to take down when the time came in January.
Let’s just say my name is François or maybe Johann--in case you have Middleburg readers (like the town's sheriff.)"
Robin writes: If there was a crime, which I doubt, the statute of limitations--both morally and legally--must have expired by now. François or maybe Johann, your "forfeit" was your story and for that we say Fröhliche Weihnachten and/or Joyeux Noel!
"True Tales of Christmas" ... To be Continued ...