In mid December 1969,  Mark holds open the door for the two boys as they struggle with an enormous scotch pine. He looks strong and fit, although still pale. He is wearing a thick cable knit wool sweater.

Snow, twigs and needles fall on the carpet as the boys  try to wrestle it into the corner of the living room. Their progress is interrupted by intermittent  gales of laughter. Estelle enters from the dining room to investigate. She sees Mark at the open door, and strides purposely toward him, a grim look on her face."

"What in the world are you thinking, standing in the open doorway. It's freezing out there!"

 She touches his cheek as though she's testing for frostbite.

"I'm not an invalid any more, darling. I'm plenty warm in this sweater. I was just holding the door open for the boys."

He reaches for the doorknob and closes the door.

"I just wanted to help. This is the first year that I won't have an active part in putting up the tree."

Estelle opens the door again when a light rap is heard. The Maxwell twins are standing on the porch, holding a big box. Joanie speaks as she enters.

"We strung some popcorn and cranberries for your tree, Mrs. Larson."

Estelle smiles and stands aside to let the girls come through.

"Oh, how nice of you. Come in, come in, It looks like the boys could use some help. It looks like the tree is defeating them."

She laughs lightly and nods toward the living room where the tree is lying on it's side. David crawls out from under it as Kyle lifts the top branches off of him.

"It's a good thing you're still wearing your coat and hood. Those branches might have done some damage to that thick skull of yours."Kyle remarks wryly.

The girls leave the box in the foyer as they run to help extricate David from the jaws of the 'killer tree'. When he is clear, all four young people lift the tree into a large deep holder. The boys tighten the screw into the trunk and stand back to survey their handiwork.

Emily lightly touches a few small scratches on David's face.

"what is the matter with you two? Those needles could have put an eye out! You tried to put up an eight foot pine all by yourselves. You should have waited for us."

Kyle frowns, annoyed.

"Leave us alone, Em. You're such an old mother hen! We would have gotten that tree up by ourselves... eventually."

The End

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