The Perfect Christmas Tree
The Hunt for the Perfect Christmas Tree
Once upon a time in a land far away, not too long ago there lived a man. This man had it in his mind to provide the perfect Christmas for his brand new wife. They had just finished exchanging vows no more than two months ago and he still felt an overwhelming need to impress her. The North Country that he is indigenous to was a land ruled by snow and pine trees. These trees, to call them majestic would be an understatement of the most notorious nature, were magnificent in their fullness and beauty. Now a standard Christmas tree is anywhere from eight feet down to an insignificant five feet tall, but they are full with minimal bare spots.
This man’s father owned eighty acres of land in the lower mountains of the Great Divide. One day in the beginning of December the fresh snow covered the land in an ethereal blanket of white. It wasn’t very deep yet but it was deep enough to create a slight challenge to traversing the land. At eight o’clock in the morning this man (let’s call him me) called up his father from his house in town. The conversation was short and to the point like most manly phone calls, it lasted no more than thirty seconds. Everything that needed to be discussed was discussed and agreed upon within those thirty seconds. Soon thereafter I got into my 1993 Chevy Cavalier—a two door—and headed out to the ole homestead. Roughly ten minutes later I arrived in high spirits in anticipation of retrieving the perfect Christmas tree.
I dressed for the occasion in a pair of winter pack boots, long johns, three layers of shirts, and my jacket. Yes it is true that men in the North generally don’t wear more than one or two layers on our legs. I don’t know why but it is more important to keep the core warm. Upon arrival I spoke with dad for about fifteen minutes. Then I grabbed the axe and headed out to the back forty. I walked up to the fallen log where many hunting trips began, but on this day I was not hunting deer I was hunting the perfect Christmas tree. The tree I had in mind was a perfect triangle with absolutely no bare spots, and a height of no more than seven feet. Now men from the country have keen eyesight.
Finding the Perfect Tree
I narrowed my eyes to gain a clear view of the area and with those narrowed eyes I scanned the view. I didn’t really have an unobstructed 360 but I did have a sufficiently unobstructed view of about 270 degrees. I scanned South, East, West, and all the points in between finding nothing satisfactory let alone perfect, so I slung the axe and headed up towards the creek in order to get a more in depth look at the offered trees. The most I could find were old, tall, or half way dead trees. As I neared the fence line we shared with the neighbor I found it. The perfect Christmas tree was right there, and I don’t know how but somehow that tree was illuminated as if the clouds parted for the sun to shine directly upon it, and only it. I heard over and over in my head the old Christmas carol, “Oh Christmas Tree” playing like a broken record stuck on the incessant repetition of those three words. I had the tune perfect but could not think of the rest of the words so my internal rendition ended up being, “Oh Christmas tree oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree oh Christmas tree” and so on. I was so excited that I started to run. If you’ve ever ran in snow it is pretty difficult just like running in shallow water, especially while wearing pack boots. Naturally, being how it is hard to maintain a run in snow, I fell. I fell face first into some more snow with the axe going out to the side of me to protect myself from being cut.
Quickly recovering my stance I ran on, though slower this time until I reached the glorified tree. I stood at the base of the tree admiring its magnificence and at the same time measuring it with my eyes. The tree was probably about twenty feet tall and thick so I decided to cut it at about arms height. It was a fairly quick job of cutting the tree down as I’ve felled many trees before with an axe. After the tree was down I de-limbed roughly three feet off the base so I would have a place to drag it back to the house. Being excited about a Christmas tree may seem like a pretty lame thing to be excited about but I was beside myself with excitement. I grabbed hold of the tree and began the arduous task of bringing her home. I should probably mention at this point that I felled the tree by the creek which is in a sort of valley; the house is on the other side of the hill of this valley, so I had to drag the tree up one hill down one and up a final short hill. Honestly, I could not have given a shit at the moment, and I began. After about twenty feet of uphill pulling I began to realize how heavy a twenty or so foot Christmas tree weighs, and by forty feet of uphill pulling I began to think about grabbing a four wheeler for this task. Unfortunately, I would have to have left the tree in order to do so and finally resigned to the thought that it would be just as quick to drag it the remaining two or three hundred more feet. Upon completion of another 150 feet of uphill pulling I crested the first hill, so I stopped to catch my breath. It was almost as if everything I’d ever done in my life was a build up for this moment of unbridled glory. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this tree that I so laboriously hauled out of the forest was the one that would most please my bride.
After a five minute interlude I continued on my journey. I could just as easily cut straight across but the terrain in between where I was and where I wanted to be was not conducive to dragging a twenty foot Christmas tree. Therefore, I took the longer yet easier path to the house. The downhill portion, contrary to popular belief was absolutely not as easy as it appeared to be. I pulled just as hard and just as long downhill as I did uphill, only the weight was different. When I pulled that glorious tree into the yard my dad was on the porch waiting for me.
“Got your tree huh?”
“Sure did, isn’t it nice?” I asked
“How you going to get it home?” he asked. Now there I stood with a twenty foot Christmas tree that was absolutely beautiful with no way to get it home. I mean, I sure wasn’t going to strap it to the roof of my ’93 Cavalier, so dad offered to haul it to my house for me. I graciously accepted the offer. In the yard I cut off five feet from the bottom of the tree to make transport a slight bit easier and loaded it into dad’s truck. He drove to town and I followed, plans spinning wildly in my head as I plotted every single step of the decorating and set up of the tree.
When we got to the house my wife came out to check out the tree. I was right, she was thrilled at its sheer beauty, but quickly asked me how we were going to get it into the house. After dad left I cut another five feet off the bottom effectively sizing it down to a ten foot Christmas tree, which would fit into the house. The stand I had was one of those crappy dollar store special tree stands, but the opening was smaller than the trunk of the tree so out of the house I went with the tree. I had to cut off another two feet of tree, but at least this time I had a hand saw. For some unknown reason I could never make a straight cut with a handsaw but it mattered not for the moment. Instead of dragging the tree back into the house to put it into the stand, I brought the stand out to the tree. It finally fit and I decided that now would be the perfect time to trim the tree as they say.
The End of my Real Tree Days
Being how this was my first time setting up a Christmas tree on my own I trimmed the tree and incidentally cut off the top of the tree. I really don’t know what I was thinking but it just seemed right and chopped off two feet from the top and thoroughly messed up the look of the tree. With the tree still in the stand I brought it back into the house. For some reason the doggone thing wouldn’t stand up on its own and kept falling over. I moved it, I rotated it, and finally I set it on blocks to get it to stand up straight. As I was putting the garland around the tree the son of a bitch fell over again. Well, that was the last straw. I have always had a short fuse and this time was no different, I picked up the tree, dragged it out of the house, and threw it over the railing of the deck.
That was where it stayed until my wife got home a couple of hours later. She saw it and implored me to redo the tree. I did and it stayed up for the rest of that Christmas but shortly after Christmas we went to Wal-Mart and bought a fake Christmas tree.
Copyright 2009 by Wesley Cox
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