My Virginia pine tree came down this past week. In Eastern England it was considered bad luck to leave up Christmas past the day the twelve drummers drummed. The shiny glittery things have been wrapped and stowed in boxes destined for the attic. The tree sits atop the compost pile.

My Virginia pine tree came down this past week. In Eastern England it was considered bad luck to leave up Christmas past the day the twelve drummers drummed. The shiny glittery things have been wrapped and stowed in boxes destined for the attic. The tree sits atop the compost pile.

The Polar Express arrived along with the New Year. With two heaters in the greenhouse going at full capacity, I figured the tropicals could hunker down and endure greenhouse temps in the mid-30 degree range while outdoors the cold was predicted to be near zero. The two lemon trees in the plastic wonder bubble are in deep trouble. Even if I moved in a second heater and ran an additional electrical cord from the house, the plastic layers might as well be tissue paper. The poor guys had already experienced temps in the low-twenties after a fuse blew in the middle of a fifteen degree night. The leaf canopies are smaller, but the trees are still alive.

The executive decision was made (by me) to do the one thing I had tried to avoid by buying the wonder bubble in the first place. Bring the trees into the house. They wouldn’t fit through the narrow greenhouse door. The forecast was a lengthy stretch of super frigid weather. I waited for my partner to come home from work. When I announced my plan, his response was ‘better yet, I could get my saw and cut each tree to pot level; the pots would have no trouble going into the greenhouse.’ He could see that didn’t go far. So the bubble door was unzipped and tied. With enormous effort a tree was put on the dolly and lowered to an angle. I held the tree up from the ground and walked behind the dolly as it was rolled to the house. The open front door was waiting for us and our indoor cats had ventured onto the porch. We pushed and pulled the tree through the front door as the cats turned and ran back into the house. The tree fought, grabbing everything along the way with its branches and thorns while scattering leaves in all directions. It was positioned in the sunporch and took up over half the glassed area. The other tree was smaller, but it too had to be shoved through the door with force. We felt like human pincushions

We can now sit at the dining room table with green thorny leafy branches hanging over our heads. The smell of citrus and lemon zest permeated the air. The one lemon tree with ten lemons with only lost one lemon during the trip. Can hardly wait for spring.

The next day Big Brown stopped at the foot of the driveway. The cats lined up under the trees to see what was going to happen next. The phone rang. In the time between answering and ending the call, the deed was done. I passed the cats on my way to the front door. Sitting on the porch was a huge cardboard box with a much smaller box on top. What in the world is this, I wondered? The box was heavy, so it was pushed into the house.

I walked around the box eyeing it suspiciously. Days after Christmas and all presents had been accounted; no others were expected. The label stated it had come from Grand Rapids, Michigan and was addressed to the two of us. Large sticky labels proclaimed “Opulent Basket.” Another surprise for my sweetheart when he got home.

The little box was opened first. Tucked inside was a thank you card appreciating our order from Koeze. Our order? Below the card was a 34 ounce glass jar full of huge malted milk balls. No one likes malted milk balls more than I, but this would last me for weeks. What lay below the balls?

The plastic tape was removed and the top flaps of the gigantic carton opened. Thick layers of foam coddled the bubble wrapped and plastic covered wicker basket. The foam padding was pulled away. We struggled to lift the weighty basket out onto the round carpet. What to my wondering eyes did appear were boxes of chocolates and nuts that nearly reached the stratosphere. Right. I am no poet. Strategically inserted inside the basket were smaller boxes of milk chocolate pecan turtles, peanut butter clusters, caramel pecan turtles, milk chocolate covered almonds, sacks of chocolate covered cherries, blueberries and raisins, one pack of chocolate stars and large glass jars of cashews, pistachios and deluxe mixed nuts with macadamias. Yes, the Opulent basket was appropriately named. It would take us all of 2018 to polish it off.

As amazing as this was, there had to be a mistake. The only thing I had ordered this year from Koeze was a nice decanter of nuts for my uncle, about the same size as the jar of malted milk balls. It was to arrive about mid-December. Koeze is a family tradition. My mother’s people, all Michiganders, would send Koeze nut products each Christmas. I think it started with my Aunt Mary who first sent Koeze nuts to my mother, who later began sending Koeze to her family and friends. Mom had six empty Koeze decanters stacked on a shelf. After she died, a fellow teacher saw them and remarked how useful they could be in a classroom for storing things. The jars went home with her. Nails, trail mix, popcorn and candy are stored in my Koeze jars.

Koeze is a family-owned business in Grand Rapids. In 1910 Sibbele Koeze established a wholesale grocer selling produce, butter and eggs. Son Albertus Koeze took over in 1918 and by 1925 peanut butter (from Virginia peanuts) and their signature Cream-Nut (peanut butter and white chocolate) made their appearance. Roasted tree nuts were next to come onboard. In the 1980’s confections were added by descendant Scott Koeze. His son Jeff Koeze, the great-grandson of Sibbele, now continues the tradition of being a heritage manufacturer of high-quality fancy food wrapped in retro packaging.

What to do about the giant basket? The business was closed for the night. We moved the basket in front of the tree and took pictures as proof, shaking our heads while coming up with different stories to explain how this might have happened.

The next morning Koeze was contacted. They were as perplexed as we were and their Information Technology section was contacted. The huge basket had been sent the week before Christmas.

My uncle should have already received his Koeze package. We then discovered my uncle’s order had not been sent. Over an hour later, things were straightened out. My uncle’s gift was now on the way. We did not have to return the basket as the mistake was on their part.

Our pine tree was a backdrop for a gift basket that retailed for $399.95 plus one jar of malted milk balls at $42.95. Somewhere in the Great Beyond while smoking cigarettes and having a drink are my Aunt Mary and Mom having a great time watching us.

One chooses to believe what one wants to believe. I believe my mom somehow circumvented an order and managed to send me Koeze nuts from Michigan.

Miracles can happen!