Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

If you've never been to the Festival of Trees, I recommend you go next year. It's always the first Saturday in December.

The luncheon starts at noon, but the gracious women who invited me suggested that I get there by 11 a.m. When I arrived the VFW Memorial Hall was bustling with lively conversation among mostly ladies, mostly dressed in red or green, with a couple even wearing Christmas light earrings that actually lit up! Gentlemen in tuxes served us wine and I spotted Mrs. Claus and some elves helping out.

I bought a few raffle tickets and cruised the perimeter of the room where 30 decorated trees waited to be raffled off. Each tree was tagged with the name of the person or organization that decorated and donated it and each had a container to put raffle tickets in.

At home we didn't have a tree yet, nor did we have plans to get one. Grinch, I mean Rick, doesn't care if we have one or not. I was waffling, disenchanted by the looming trip to the crowded storage unit to round up decorations, ornaments and the new LED lights we bought on sale after Christmas last year.

While I tried to decide on which tree to take a chance on winning, I kept in mind our small living room, the fact that the kids weren't coming home for the holidays and what Rick would say when I called from the corner of H and 8th to ask him to bring the pickup.

The cute tabletop tree from the Anna Wulf House was small yet

elegant. I put a couple of tickets in the coffee can in front of it.

There was a short, squatty live tree that smelled like Christmas, so I

tossed a few tickets in that can, too. One tree came with a beautiful

quilt made by the Gasquet Quilters. How sweet to give that quilt to my

granddaughter Kayla on her first Christmas! I put all but one of my

chances in that can which was already brimming full with hopeful blue


With just one chance left, I spotted a colorful and compact tree. It

was a prelit "patio tree" and came with a beautiful skirt, two teddy

bears and a pillow that says, "Deck the hall with bears and holly."

Kayla would love those bears someday and my daughter-in-law Holly would

enjoy the pillow.

I deposited my remaining ticket in the 4-H Sewing Club tree can

before I sat down to enjoy lunch and the fashion show. I was

disappointed when I didn't win a door prize like the woman sitting next

to me, but when the announcer got to "tree number 14" and called my

name I was thrilled. I'd won the 4-H tree!

The 4-foot tree and all its hand-sewn trimandshy;mings fit nicely into the

box that fit easily in my trunk. At home, Rick was so reandshy;lieved that I

didn't win a giant tree that he praised my choice and helped me set it

up. It's our first artificial tree and I see the benefits already: You

don't have to water it or clean up the needles.

Thanks to the Crescent City Emblem Club for hosting the 15th annual

Festival of Trees. And thanks to Jan and Calie for inviting me. It was

a fun afternoon and a very efficient way to get a beautiful tree into

our home this year!

Reach Michele Thomas, The Daily Triplicate's publisher, at 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.