Posted by: trevormeers | November 13, 2009

A Tree for City People

I have a feeling this year’s Christmas tree is going to weigh on me like a pine-scented albatross. When I was growing up, Christmas trees didn’t come easily. Every year, the moment that my dad finally climbed up to stick the plastic angel on top was like pinning the silver wings on a Green Beret’s chest. Getting to this point required a passage through the crucible.

My mom would sooner steal money from the Salvation Army bell ringers outside Wal-Mart than buy the trees that stand beside them like wrapped fish. So every Thanksgiving weekend, we headed out to earn our tree at the you-cut farm. Sub-zero wind chills couldn’t keep us from roaming the local tree farm for an hour or more as Mom agonized over which one had the proper height and acceptable gaps between limbs. We’d own these trees for a month before they went on the burning pile, but Mom gave them more consideration than houses she’d purchased, warily circling each candidate as my toes flirted with frostbite. I abandoned hope if she began debating pine vs. spruce.

During all this, my Christmas card previewdad couldn’t have been more in his elemDSC_0193ent. He stalked through the snow, ranting at his favorite nemesis like Patton on the battlefield. “You won’t see city people out cutting a tree in this weather!” he’d triumphantly snarl, the words disappearing on the wind.

With that legacy, you can see why it felt like cheating when I took my own family out last weekend to pre-select a tree at the tree farm just across the Skunk River valley. The farm has the rather ingenious, if clearly city-folk-inspired, option of letting you tag a tree during early November’s mild weather, then return for a surgical strike to cut and remove the tree in the post-Thanksgiving chill. On the Sunday afternoon we went, the temperature hit 74 degrees. Allison noted this fact right next to “Merry Christmas” on the chalkboard she held for the Christmas card photo we took at the farm.  We all wore T-shirts, and Allison did handstands and Katie made leaf angels.

It barely felt like Christmas-tree shopping, what with all the circulation in our extremities. But by the time I go back to cut the tree, maybe the wind chill will have grown dangerous. And when I lay on the ground to cut the trunk, hopefully some snow will slip into my pants and burn my skin. You can’t rightfully open presents under a tree you got the easy way, after all.

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