For as far back as I can remember, finding the right Christmas tree has been a treasured tradition.
We began looking the weekend after Thanksgiving, trekking through the fields and woods near our South Carolina house. Sometimes, it would take several weekend excursions to find the right one—searches that often occurred in conjunction with rabbit hunts.
Cedar provided the best shape, the most pleasing aroma and was easy to locate. But the tree had to be tapered just so, full, and with no holes in the foliage, so we wouldn’t have to subject one side to facing the wall. Finding one close to home was a plus, since we had to drag it back. We chopped it down with an axe or hatchet, sometimes a bow saw if we wanted to be more precise.
No matter the condition of the tree—full, scraggly, crooked—when we added lights, ornaments and handfuls of tinsel tossed randomly onto the limbs, the tree became glorious.
Last year, Pat and I relived the wonder of a Christmas tree hunt. We went all the way to Alabama to find the right one. We searched in Johnson City and then Knoxville first, but none had that perfect balance of size, contour and color. We found what we were looking for in Birmingham. Odd, they don’t let you hunt rabbits in the At Home store.
The search was intense as we examined dozens of trees before we found the right size, the closest semblance to real evergreen needles, and less expensive than a new refrigerator. One advantage: Someone from the store dragged the tree to the car. I did have to drag it out after we got home, though.
Two days before Thanksgiving this year, I was tasked with finding the Christmas tree. I didn’t have to go far; it was in the attic, right where I put it last January. But I seem to recall that I got it up there with the help of my son-in-law, who was not around when I needed him.
The tree, packed in a long, bulky box, is heavy, and pulling it down a ladder, one rung at a time, would likely result in damage to the tree, to say nothing of injuries I would suffer. Ingenuity was called for. It did not come.
I found a long piece of heavy cord, climbed into the attic, tied one end to a handle on top of the box, wrapped the cord over a rafter, pulled the other end around my waist as I have seen mountain climbers do, and began to lower the tree into the garage.
It got stuck. I pushed, pulled and finally got it loose so that gravity could take over. A thin length of cord burns when it slides rapidly across your palms as the heavy object it’s attached to plummets to the floor.
Pat says some of the lights aren’t working.