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A tragedy, a sad tree, the best Christmas ever

My father was a Detroit mounted police officer. During the race riots, his horse was hit from behind with a car. It was in front of J.L. Hudson’s Department Store, downtown Detroit.

The horse landed on top of him on the curb, broke his back.

It was close to Christmas and Dad was stationed in our large living room in a hospital bed.

I was 4 and my two brothers were 7 and 10.

Tradition changed that year. Christmas Eve day, my brothers walked to the vacant lot where they sold trees and brought home a 4-foot leftover. By the time they dragged it down the sidewalk, one side was bare.

We decorated it, and my mother cried. The bulbs kept falling off and she kept vacuuming up the needles.

We went to bed with the idea Santa would still come.

We woke up to the sound of sleigh bells.

It was morning and Santa was at the front door.

We peeked over the upstairs railing and there was a Christmas tree as tall as the ceiling and fully decorated, like in pictures.

Santa came in with all my mom’s relatives, aunts, uncles, cousins, but no Uncle Art. Found out later in life he was Santa.

Christmas breakfast was celebrated at our house. Everyone got gifts.

“Best Christmas ever!!!” I am 81 years old now.

— Janice MacNeill, Lincoln