Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas tree woes

We went Christmas tree shopping yesterday. Most of you know how I "love" Christmas trees.

When I was a kid we planted a hillside on the farm with Scotch pine. It was my first encounter with the process of Christmas tree economics. "When you are ready for college" my dad crowed, "You can cut these and sell them." Yep, two hours of work in the damp weather in the spring of 1951 on that gravel-rich Pennsylvania hillside had me thinking of anything but money.

Seven years later my mother sent me searching for a live tree on the same hillside (so much for harvesting for profit.) I was to dig it, put it in a metal bushel measure (bright and shining, galvanized container purchased at the Farm Bureau in New Wilmington) dirt and all and that would be our tree. So out I go on a cold December day on my John Deere (it was mine because virtually no one else drove it) to retrieve said tree. It was not a fun adventure for a seventeen year old. The ground was partially frozen and the trees were intertwined with brambles by this time and the soil was still gravely and on a 60% slope, or so it seemed. It was an ugly tree as I recall. That was the last tree I was responsible for while on the farm. Fast forward to married life.

I married a girl who had a dad that could do anything. He could fix leaky faucets, balky toilets, and broken this or thats. He could also supply his family a Christmas tree with a smile (anything for his only daughter.) What I brought to the marriage was the attitude that as far as Christmas trees is concerned, "less is more."

For the first few years I would endure "the search" of the tree lots, first in New Jersey, then Illinois, back to New Jersey, then Pennsylvania, and finally to Michigan. By about our tenth year I began to assert myself. "Christmas trees are not fun," I would either think to myself or mumble out loud. I remember one tree we got for our church contained a bat, unbeknownst to us, further adding my disdain since I felt responsible for the removal of the bat from the sanctuary. I don't think I was successful, however. I am not sure this was the same year, but whilst one of our soloists was singing the bat appeared on the brick wall in the front of the church distracting the congregation from the solo.

Another landmark Christmas was 1980 when our house burned (remember that Sandy?) and Donnalu called us while we were visiting in Pennsylvania: "Tom, your house is on fire...and it was not the Christmas tree that started it." You see, I had a reputation for blaming things on the Christmas tree.

Finally, by about year 35 Aleene had had enough of my whining. She bought a beautiful artifical tree. I was in Christmas tree heaven. For six or so years I had narry a worry about the selection, transport, set up or removal of the dastardly Christmas tree. Then we moved here.

We have little storage in our wee house and an artificial tree just did not make the cut. We sold it for pennies on the dollar before we left Michigan. I put the best face I could on the return to Christmas tree buying. Years one and two were ok. I like the fact that we have hardwood floors because it makes the needle removal so much easier. But this year we were behind the curve on selection because of our late-year trip.

Aleene, bless her, gave me permission to go it alone this year, but I quickly reminded her that there was no way that I would solely bear the responsibilty for the sacred tree selection. Nope, she would have to go along. She agreed, but then gave in to buying a sight unseen, string-wrapped tree. So it sitting on the porch waiting to be wrestled into the house and man-handled into the stand and set up....just so.

"Why does this bother me?" I innocently asked this morning. "I don't know," she responded,"But you are the only one that it bothers so it must be your problem." I let the conversation die, but since I am writing this you know it is on my mind and it will continue to be until the truck hauls the skelaton away on January second.


Amani said...

Interesting post..! Christmas has always been an important holiday in my family,

SLB said...

I do remember Christmas 1980! I remember Ann-Margaret and I out playing when I looked over and said, "Is their house supposed to be doing that?" And she said, "ya, lets keep playing" and then I yelled "Dad" I won't repeat what he said, but he moved very fast fire extinguisher (sp?) in hand.. Then I saw Cats get tossed out the door!