|I’ve been going to the same Christmas tree farm for the last fifty years. We're not related but I’ve been such a regular customer that the proprietor of said farm lets me drive the John Deere tractor and wagon to haul my tree in after I have made my selection. For all of you city dwellers that think a Christmas tree farm is something set up on a vacant lot somewhere with a string of lights and overpriced Charlie Brown cedar bushes you’re wrong.
An authentic tree farm is where the trees are still in the ground and you take an axe and cut down the tree of your choice. Now, before the tree-huggers start pelting me with bits of holiday fruitcake about the damage that I am causing the environment by chopping down a tree, let it be said that I recycle my tree every year. I take my used tree and drop it in my friend’s lake to give the fish some added protective habitat. I’m been doing that for about five years and I haven’t caught a fish out of that lake since. I usually lose my line several times, probably on one of those dang trees.
When I went to get my tree this year I thought I was at the mall. The owner of the farm saw me pull in and waved me over to the John Deere. “Can’t talk now,” he said. “This place is jumping.”
He was right. I counted at least 4 pickups, 3 minivans, 2 SUVs, and a brightly colored red mustang.
I get the same kind of tree every year. My favorite has always been a white pine. There are several rules when choosing a tree. You have to walk through the entire field, up and down the rows, checking out each tree. I never choose one in the middle. It’s either all the way down at the other end of the field or it’s the very first one I see. In years past, I would take the handsaw and cut it down myself. Something has happened over the years, if I get down on the ground I can’t get back up. No problem, the owner will cut it for me, load it into the wagon, and then let me drive it back to the car.
The field was crowded with folks searching for just the perfect tree. A lot of people had already been there; the selection of white pines wasn’t as good as in past years. I had narrowed my choice down to 3 different trees and was trying to decide. I was on the opposite side of the field when an older lady and gentleman sidled up to one of the trees that I was considering. Before I could take one step in that direction, that old man had dropped to his knees and started cutting down my tree. I turned to look toward the other tree that I had been considering and it was gone too. I guess I was going to take the one closest to my car, the very first tree that I had looked at. I started to walk away from my chosen one when I heard something from behind me. It was a little boy that was standing excitedly beside my tree exclaiming that that was the tree he wanted.
He didn’t get it. I caught the eye of the owner of the farm and he walked over and asked if I had made my selection. I pointed to my Christmas tree and he chopped it down. The little boy was standing there as his parents walked up to a freshly cut tree stump. They looked at me and I looked at them and then we all looked at the owner of the Christmas tree farm who said this: “Sorry folks, you’re too late; my niece has been watching this tree grow for the past five years.”
He looked at me, gave me a wink, and proceeded to carry my new Christmas tree over to my car. Sometimes, it helps to know the owner.