Clark Griswold, you’ve got nothing on our tree adventures

While my dad, thankfully, has not driven the car under a log truck on our forays into the woods, we have traipsed far and wide to find that perfect Christmas tree.  I have walked through knee deep snow, had my dad cross a creek, and picked trees that were so heavy it was a wonder they even made it home with us.   I have also picked out trees, that as a child, I felt could rival the Times Square behemoth they supply every year.  My parents, at times, having to cut off at least 5 feet of tree, would likely agree with that statement.

To me, the best way to find that perfect Christmas tree is to take an adventure into the local forests, avoiding the u-cuts and the stands.  I realize that living in the Northwest offers this wonderful opportunity which is not readily available to everyone.  For that, I feel quite spoiled.

If I think hard, I find that my favorite Christmas tree story is the one involving a much too tall and heavy tree, and no one to help my dad get it on top of the vehicle.   At this time I must have been about fourteen, and my brother nine.  On this particular day we had been out for what seemed like a very long time.  Mom and Dad had driven all around the woods, stopped, let us get out to walk and search, and still my brother and I couldn’t find the tree that felt just right.  After a couple more hours driving around in the forest, my parents said that we needed to look harder because it was taking too long.  So off we set, walking a good distance away from the road.  Finally my brother and I spotted it, about 30 yards away, just sitting there waiting for us to find it, wanting to fulfill its destiny to be our Christmas tree.  When we told my dad that this was the tree, I think I may have seen a slight sag and shake of the head: “Of course.  My children can’t do anything that’s easy.”  So Dad, being the one to cut down tree, set off to do his duty.  My brother and I waited.  Dad made it to the tree.  He started cutting.  The tree started leaning.  Down it went.  Yes, that’s our tree.

As my dad began to trudge back, it seemed that it was taking slightly longer than what was normal.  Finally, within a short distance of my brother and I, we could tell that the look on his face said that this was not an easy task we had asked of him.  It turns out that not only was the tree extremely dense and heavy (I told you it was perfect), apparently my dad had to walk through a small creek to get there.  I think most other dad’s would have done no such thing, but not ours.

So, my dad with his feet now slightly wet, enlisted our help to drag the tree the rest of the way to the car.  One we got to the car, a small SUV at this point, we were met with the task of how on earth we were going to get it on top.  The tree being so heavy, and my brother and I, not as strong as we are now, proved to not be much of a help.  Mom also wasn’t able to help much either – but she is a great director.  From my dad: “Sigh.”

We began to watch my dad attempt in various ways to heave the tree on top of the car, each time met with a definite failure; some not making it at all, and some making it half way and then rolling off.   At this point, a few choice words were being used regarding our wonderful tree selection.  I should also mention that my brother and I were almost rolling on the ground with laughter at this scene.  I’m sure that made the situation all the better for my dad.  After many more failed attempts, my dad decided to drag the tree to a location that was a slight hill.  He then got in the car and drove over to where he thought he would be able to easily roll the tree on top.  I believe this too, proved to not be quite as easy as thought.  However, in the end there was triumph and we now had the tree on top of the car.  But something was definitely wrong.

My mom and dad took a step back and had the look on their faces of utter bewilderment.  The tree we had chosen… was longer than the car!  However, my dad having worked so hard to get it on top of the car, was not anywhere close to willing to take it down and cut it to a more reasonable length.  Again, a sigh.  So my parents started tying up the tree to secure it to the top.  Once secured, we all got in and were ready to take off.  Once in the car, there were almost no words.  If you remember the scene from “Christmas Vacation,” where the front of the tree took over much of the front windshield, this is exactly what  it looked like.  Slightly embarrassing now that I think about.  Nonetheless, off we took on our way home.

On our way back it was easy to notice that cars were staring at us as they passed.  How could they not, we looked ridiculous.  We stopped at our favorite small town stand for our standard ice cream cone, and when we did, my parents said this is one of the more embarrassing moments they’ve had.  My brother and I, being slightly oblivious to what people may have thought of this, didn’t really notice anything.  My parents recall the questions and looks from people as their kids were enjoying their treat.  They fielded the questions and were hoping we could just get home soon so they could figure out how on earth this tree was even going to make it in the house.

In all the years of selecting Christmas trees, this specific adventure is my favorite.  I am able to recall the memory clear as day, and just writing this took a long time for all of my laughing that brought tears to my eyes.  I feel very fortunate to have parents that allowed us such as wonderful childhood filled with these types of memories.  If I am to ever have a family of my own some day, I would hope that my child too, will be able to have that memory of the crazy Christmas tree.

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