I told a little white lie yesterday. When I was talking about going Christmas tree shopping and I said, “Most of [those trips] just blur together and fade into the background. Except one…” I meant except two.
That first story I told you about was an adventure and one helluva challenge. This trip was more of a living nightmare! The first mistake that we made was going without my father. Every trip was either my dad and me, or both of my parents and me, or my parents and both of us kids – we were never sans Dad. But Mom reeeeeally wanted to get that tree home and the ball rolling on the decorating before Dad got home (I don’t even remember what the rush was) so my mother and sister piled into my car (my baby, an ’89 Ford Probe – this is important later, file it away).
We drove to our favorite Christmas tree farm and trundled out into the snow. It was horrendous weather (as always) and it was going to be a real trick to drag this tree through the deep snow. To make matters worse, the place was packed and their parking lot was full, so we had to drive up the road and park by the ditch on the shoulder.
We got out and made our way to the trees. It was beyond cold! The windchill had to be below zero and it was whipping around and cutting through all of our winter layers. I was so worried about how long this was going to take (my mom can be a bit particular when it comes to the family Christmas tree) because I was already going numb just from the walk from the car.
To my surprise, my mother found one she loved right away! It was close to the entrance and the ground was well travelled there so the snow wasn’t deep at all! I pulled out the saw and got ready to start hacking away. This is where I discovered problem numero dos – I did not inherit my father’s know-how of tools and what equipment was required for certain jobs.
Did you know there was a difference between this:
Sure you did. I however did not. I just thought a saw is a saw. After about the millionth pull of the saw when I finally made it through the bark I realized the foolishness of that assumption. Nevertheless, I kept hacking away. When I was a little over halfway through, I heard my sister’s little voice ask, “Who’s Hooper?” If you remember other posts about my sister, you’ll remember that she is 11 years my junior – so at this time she was probably still in the single digits; an age when random questions and nonsense is normal. I ignored her and kept sawing. But my mother pressed her for further information wanting to know what she was talking about. My sister went on, “Hooper. It’s written on this ribbon on the tree.”
Well, whoever the Hooper family was, they had a beautiful tree picked out and half of the work had been done for them.
The second tree that we decided upon was not nearly as quickly chosen, nor was it anywhere near the entrance to the tree farm. And it was a BIG tree – not as big as the behemoth I told you about before, but still quite a beast. How that hacksaw blade didn’t break is a complete miracle. We managed to cut it down and with A LOT of effort we dragged it back to the car.
Next issue, my mother and sister are extremely short and standing in a ditch didn’t help. Why not bring it to the other side of the road? Well there must have been an Amish parade that went by while we were walking around the tree lot because the road was a virtual patchwork quilt of horse poo. My mother is a very strong woman – athletic in her childhood and a hard worker her entire adult life – however, if you can’t lift your arms high enough to get the tree onto the roof of the car, strength doesn’t really help you too much.
Eventually, we managed to hoist the tree up to the roof of the car, which buckled and sagged under the weight of the snow and ice-laden tree. It was a Probe – it would sag under the weight of a lightbulb – and here it is being a flatbed for a redwood! My poor baby.
We tied the tree down as best as we could. It was a two-door with no anchor points on the inside. The doors and trunk would not close if there was a rope in the way. So it was held together by knots and the windows clamping onto the rope as tightly as they could. Oh and by my elementary school aged sister. We told her to hold tightly to the rope in the back while we drove. Because, you know, if a hundred pounds of frozen tree decides to shoot off a car doing 60 miles per hour, your best line of defense is a 40-pound ballerina.
We took off for home and had not gotten very far before we became painfully aware of a strong, unpleasant odor filling the car. Oh yeah…the horse poo.
The smell was so horrendous we had to crack the windows a bit. Which A) sent freezing winter wind through our ears and B) loosened the tree ropes a bit, which was evident by my sister’s bulging eyeballs that seemed to fill my rearview mirror as she realized how much she could control the movement of the tree on the roof if she had the strength to do so…and also how incredibly aware she now was about that lack of strength.
It was a long ride home. The icy winds, the thick smell of equestrian dookies, and the panicked whimpers of a young girl was holding on so tight to the rope that she was being lifted off of the seat (and she also freely shifted left and right with each roll of the tree on the roof, which would have been amusing if not for the constant fear of her getting yanked completely out the window).
Fortunately, we succeeded in our journey albeit a little worse for wear. And we never, ever, went tree hunting without my father again.
“Can I refill your eggnog? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere, leave you for dead?” ~ National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation