When the tree inevitably began to die some weeks later, I told my crestfallen kids that they were to blame -- they should have started earlier and worked harder. Unfortunately, I now informed them, our only recourse was to completely remove the tree before it claimed one or more of their lives.
Scouring the neighborhood yard sales that weekend, I was able to pick up a half-dozen or so rusty and decrepit chainsaws with which to arm the children before sending them high up into the branches of the dead and rapidly decaying elm tree. I must say, it was gratifying indeed to witness the healthy competition that developed between the children as they worked to cut as much firewood as quickly as possible. In fact, some of the younger kids proved surprisingly adept at rapidly cutting off small limbs -- the tree's as well as their own. All in all, the loss of life was no more than you would have expected in an operation this size -- one death from injuries sustained in a fall, two partial decapitations, and one fatal abdominal wound caused by flying copper nail fragments.
On the positive side of the ledger, we ended up with over nine cords of wood, which the kids were able to sell for a grand total of $3,200 -- enough to pay their room and board for the entire month! And since I generously allowed the surviving children to divvy up the unclaimed shares earned by their less fortunate siblings, they were able to cover the increased health insurance premium costs I was forced to pass along to them once they had been relegated to the "high-risk" pool common to all amateur lumberjacks.
Yet in spite of our family's uniquely American success story, there remains, to this day, one glaring "fly in the ointment" -- namely my 87-year-old mother (whose Social Security check barely covers her grocery bill at Petco). Not only has she steadfastly refused to help her toddler grandchildren stack cord wood, she continues to insist on poisoning our domestic corporate culture with her own brand of FDR socialism -- replete with cockamamie ideas about food inspections, occupational safety, and child labor.
Well frankly, I'm fed up with her relentless attempts to impose burdensome governmental regulations on this family. So I've decided to institute what I call the "Grover Norquist Solution." My wife and I recently put a stop to her filching drinking water from the garden hose, made the tool shed where she sleeps a little less comfortable by taking away the smudge pot she uses to heat it, and even cut her feed corn rations in half. Eventually, once she becomes too feeble to resist, we plan to drag her into the bathroom and drown her in the bathtub.
After all, what's good enough for my country is good enough for my family, right?