Live Christmas trees are popular because they smell good and bring the woods into the house.

But sometimes they can bring too much of the woods into the house… 

Charlotte Keller says, "Thirty or so years ago I bought a live tree for myself and my son.

"After setting it up and getting the lights rigged, it was quite lovely. There was a knot on one of the branches, but no tree is perfect, right?

"Well, after the lights heated up that tree, the knot started to hatch. And pretty soon my tree came alive with baby praying mantises.

"I didn't notice the 'living tree' until after Christmas when it was time to take down the decorations. Then I couldn't get that tree out of my house fast enough, decorations and all.

"Those little critters covered the entire tree. Mama was freaking out. Thank God for a good vacuum cleaner."

Creepy Tree II

Ed Mazoue Jr., of New Orleans, tells of the time we took our children (Chris, 10; Clayton, 6; Chad, 2) to cut down our own Christmas tree at a farm.

"We finally agreed on a finely-shaped 6-foot trophy, carried it home and put it in a stand, to decorate the next day.

"Our kids woke up first; suddenly they ran in and jumped on the bed, screaming about the tree.

"We ran to the tree, then stopped in terror and bewilderment. On the tree and the walls and the ceiling and the floor were hundreds of baby spiders. We had apparently chopped down the farm’s spider nursery.

"We had the cleanest house in the subdivision for Christmas, and the kids had one heck of a tale to tell their friends."

Fair warning

David Earle, of Baton Rouge, says, "The indoor tennis courts at BREC’s Independence Park have strange labels because evidently OSHA developed a new safety law.

"On both doors opening to the courts there is a warning that should be on every door — 'Caution: Door May Open.'"

Special People Dept.

(I'm running some birthday/anniversary notes early, before my Well-Deserved Vacation starts Thursday.)

— Phillip Sharp, of Covington, celebrates his 111th birthday Monday, Dec. 21.

— Shirley DeJean, of Port Allen, says, "My aunt celebrates her 99th birthday Monday, Dec. 21. She is upset because she can't have a birthday party due to COVID-19. Your readers are so kind; I wonder if they would send birthday cards to: Eva Briscoe, Elmbrook Nursing Home, 1711 Ninth St., Ardmore, OK 73401."

— Therese Theriot, of Pierre Part, celebrates her 96th birthday Tuesday, Dec. 22.

— Ann Sanders Strickland, of Ollie Steele Burden Manor, Baton Rouge, celebrated her 95th birthday Dec. 7.

— Harry Lemmon, of Luling, celebrated his 90th birthday Friday, Dec. 11. He is a retired Louisiana Supreme Court justice.

— Mary Dee and Nelvil Theard, of Covington, celebrate 71 years of marriage Tuesday, Dec. 22.

—Theresa and Tom Seibert, of Bogalusa, celebrated their 67th anniversary Dec. 1.

— Larry and Anagene Alford Mobley, of Amite, celebrate their 66th anniversary Saturday, Dec. 19. He is an Air Force veteran and former LSU football player.

Untrue grits

"I see grocery stores are back to rationing toilet paper," says Gail Stephenson, of Baton Rouge. "I have to wonder whether there’s a real shortage or whether people are just reacting to media stories.

"Reminds me of an incident in the late ‘70s when I was living in Shreveport. As I was driving to work, a DJ read a fake news story about how there was going to be a grits shortage because there had been unexpected cold weather and all of the 'grit bushes' had frozen.

"On my way home I stopped by the grocery. Imagine my surprise to find the grits shelf completely empty."

Childspeak revisited

Tony Falterman, of Napoleonville, says, "How do you pronounce 'diary?'

"My wife’s granddaughter, Aubrey, 5, says she has to write something in her 'diarrhea' every day!

"I assume she says what she hears when adults say 'diary.'

"How in the heck could you correct such innocence? It’ll be 'diarrhea' for at least another year or so!"

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.