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[Beauty of Unity, Citation: Mike Royko, One More Time (University of Chicago Press, 1999), pp. 85-87; submitted by Dallas Roark, Emporia, Kansas]

The late columnist Mike Royko writes about a conversation he had with Slats Grobnik, a man who sold Christmas trees.

Slats remembered one couple on the hunt for a Christmas tree.

The guy was skinny with a big Adam’s apple and small chin, and she was kind of pretty.

But both wore clothes from the bottom of the bin of the Salvation Army store.


After finding only trees that were too expensive, they found a Scotch pine that was okay on one side, but pretty bare on the other.

Then they picked up another tree that was not much better—full on one side, scraggly on the other.

She whispered something, and he asked if $3 would be okay.

Slats figured both trees would not be sold, so he agreed.


A few days later Slats was walking down the street and saw a beautiful tree in the couple’s apartment.

It was thick and well rounded.

He knocked on their door and they told him how they worked the two trees close together where the branches were thin.

Then they tied the trunks together.

The branches overlapped and formed a tree so thick you couldn’t see the wire.

Slats described it as "a tiny forest of its own."


"So that’s the secret," Slats asserts.

"You take two trees that aren’t perfect, that have flaws, that might even be homely, that maybe nobody else would want. If you put them together just right, you can come up with something really beautiful."