The Perfect Christmas Tree


During my travels today I noticed that there are several places set up in full operation selling Christmas trees. Almost every vacant lot or spare corner of a parking lot has a travel trailer parked on it, surrounded by a wide array of Christmas trees mostly douglas fir and some pine. The Christmas tree lots always have a few Christmas lights strung up around the perimeter and usually, if the seller is good, some Christmas music playing on a CD player to get us into the holiday mood.It reminded me that Christmas is only a couple short weeks away.

It also reminded me of the fun that used to be had searching for a Christmas tree. I remember touring the tree lots, looking at one tree, then another, all of them looking alike to me, but not quite right for Wendy. I always found that they looked pretty much the same, particularly when they were still tied up with twine.

But we always found one, and after the prerequisite bargaining with the lot owner, got it for a fair price. Then it was just a matter of somehow getting it either in the car or tied on to the roof for the trip home. We usually tied it on the roof, sort of like a deer hunter ties a trophy deer on the roof, so the neighborhood knows you got a deer, or a good Christmas tree.

Years ago, when I was full of young exhuberance, and cheap, I would often head to the woods in search of a real Christmas tree. No trimmed, cultivated trees for me, it was a badge of honor to find and cut your own tree. A friend of mine always had a tree picked out for me, one that he always said was, “the best tree ever.”

If I balked at all, he would get a downcast look on his face, and say something such as, “Well suit yourself, but this is a nice tree. I saw it during deer season, and figured it would be perfect for you. I checked on it several times to make sure it was still there.”

Of course this little bit of guilt was all it took and I would end up agreeing to go get the tree, to cut my own, like our forefathers who didn’t know that there was such a thing as a chain saw or a corner Christmas tree lot where a tree could be purchased. Even if they did, they wouldn’t dream of buying a tree.

On one occasion I remember going by boat up the lake, during a snowstorm, then into the woods about half a kilometer to cut a tree that my buddy had found for me, another one of the best trees ever.

The perfect Christmas tree for me. He pointed out the recommended fir tree, as full of branch and as well shaped as a BowFlex addict. He handed me an axe as sharp as a butter knife, to cut down the tree then left me while he went off to “check his rabbit snares.”

I spent a goodly amount of time and energy chopping down the tree, and then the real work began as I had to carry and drag it the half kilometer back to the boat. Never good at estimating the size of tree I needed, I always erred on the large size, meaning I could cut it down smaller when I got it home, just in case it was too big, and they always were.

Those days are over, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view. The romance of a real Christmas tree is short lived when the needles dry and fall, sap gets on the carpet, and it becomes something of a fire hazard in no time. Not to mention remembering to crawl under it and add water on a regular basis.

Now we have an artificial tree. That means it goes up early and stays up a little later than a “live” tree. No watering, no dropping needles, or not as many anyway. Plus no needles all over the car, no worries about it blowing off the roof on the drive home, and no multiple attempts to cut it down to the right height so the Christmas star would fit on top without marking the ceiling.

In the old days of a real Christmas tree I invariably missed the day the garbage collectors would pick up an old Christmas tree, which meant that our tree usually blew around the backyard all winter, some errant pieces of tinsel still fluttering in the wind. It would remain there until Wendy would get me to saw it up in small pieces or take it to the camp to burn it.

Nope, an artificial Christmas tree is the way to go. It can stay up forever if you want, and while sometimes a little tiresome, for all intents and purposes, a lot easier to put up, especially the one we have now, that has lights built into it. Ok so I am not very traditional, I admit, I am pragmatic, practical and…well…lazy.

As for my buddy picking me out a Christmas tree? In hindsight I don’t think he had any rabbit snares set, but he sure knew how to snare a sap….

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