Once as a child, I remembered going out to our family land to find a good-sized tree and bring it home as our Christmas tree. Everything went perfectly- probably because my dad, grandpa, and other relatives actually knew what they were doing. Not like when I attempted the same feat for my fledgling family.
I am a city boy, raised mostly in the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles County. But I do love the country, the peace and quiet, the slower pace of life. When my wife and I moved to Northern Virginia, we had the opportunity to visit her family down in the country frequently. Her mother owned a piece of land in the middle of the woods outside of Charlottesville. When Christmas rolled around, we thought, instead of paying upwards of $30 for a Christmas tree at a lot, why not just go cut one down ourselves. What could go wrong?
We didn’t have a real saw, but we did have a hacksaw. So we took the hacksaw and drove 3 hours down to the woods. To our surprise, once we arrived we could not find a single, substantial pine- nothing that could pass as a Christmas tree (you know, with the inverted cone shape). Finally, we found a little tree, shaped like a oval. We figured we could just trim the tree into a cone-ish shape. Oh, and the tree was covered with little barbs. But it was all we could find, so we would just make due.
We cut down the tree with our hacksaw- it took forever. Then we wrapped it up in a tarp and strapped it to the roof of our minivan with bungee cords, ropes, and whatever else we could find. It wasn’t strapped well enough apparently because it kept sliding back and forth across the top of the van. Finally, we got home and stuffed the tree into our little apartment, trying to avoid the barbs. The tree was too short for our ceiling and, no, we couldn’t trim it into a cone-ish shape.
Even decked out with ornaments and lights, the tree was a pitiful site – a close relative of Charlie Brown’s sorry little tree. Over the next couple weeks, our little toddlers would scream out in pain as they ran past the ugly tree, little barbs stuck in their feet. Instead of filling our home with the rick aroma of a Douglas Fir, it let off a faintly musky odor. We had made a mistake.
Finally, two days before Christmas, overwhelmed by barbs and depressed by the tree, we stripped off the decorations and put it in the dumpster. Then we went and bought a fake tree at Target on clearance (which I highly recommend).