This weekend my family went to pick out Christmas trees. I say ‘trees’, as in ‘more than one tree’, because this sort of excursion involves multiple households now that my sister and myself are on our own. What was once a short family excursion to find one perfect tree* has now turned into a three ring circus with five or more of us running around like crazy trying to figure out how many trees we need, how we will ever locate this number of perfect trees, and how we are going to load them all up on the same truck so that they don’t fall off into the road on the way home and so that we are able to remember whose tree is whose by the time we get home.
*The idea of the perfect tree differs from person to person. While everyone else wants a nice, tall, full tree I always feel sorry for the straggly, Charlie Brown looking trees off in the corner being peed on by wild animals. For this reason, and because of my choice of pets who tend to have, uh, how do you say, some challenges, my husband has forbidden me from adopting any children, as he is afraid I would choose one whose medical issues would put us into bankruptcy or whose behavioral issues would leave us with yellow crime scene tape fencing off our house from the public. He is probably right. I’m such a sucker, even for sad looking trees.
This year the entourage consisted of my dad, my mom, my sister Velma, my husband D, and myself. We were looking for 4 trees – one for my parents’ house, one for Velma’s house, one for my house, and one for my mother-in-law, who couldn’t join us but was brave enough to trust our judgment in tree purchasing.
In order to get these trees, we headed out to a tree farm that we have frequented for many years. Tree farms are awesome because you can cut your tree down yourself and haul it away. This makes us sedentary Americans who lock ourselves indoors 22 hours a day feel like we are actually participating in nature, even if all we are doing is chopping down a tree with a 4 inch diameter trunk, thus inflating our carbon footprints for the sake of tradition. Also, these trees were $7. Yep, $7. You can’t beat that.
We all gathered at my parents’ house to head out for our annual tree excursion. I walked down to the basement to pick up some things I had left at my parents’ house a few weeks ago. I look up, and my dad is standing on the basement stairs. Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit.
Did you read that? Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit.
A few questions come to mind. First, where did my dad get a prison jumpsuit? Most people don’t just have one lying around. I certainly don’t. And it’s not like you can just go down to the prison jumpsuit store and pick up a few when the urge strikes you. Secondly, why is he wearing the jumpsuit? Even if one landed on my doorstep I would not wear one. Does he think it makes him look more outdoorsy? Maybe he’s worried about hunters not being able to see him (not that I’ve ever seen a hunter at the tree farm). Maybe he fancies that the jumpsuit has a slimming effect? No idea. I have no freakin clue what possessed my dad to don an orange prison jumpsuit, but there he is, standing on the basement stairs, wearing one.
I raise my eyebrows and make eye contact with Velma. She looks at me and suppresses a giggle.
After a long search for the saw (you can’t go tree hunting without a saw, after all) we head out. My parents drive their truck and the rest of us follow in my little Jetta that I’ve named Rollie (pron. Raww-lee). Go, Rollie, go! We keep a camera in the front seat just in case my parents get pulled over. If an officer makes my dad get out of the truck with that orange prison jumpsuit on, we want a picture.
We make small talk on the trip up to the tree farm. My husband laments that there might not be enough trees, as last year the tree supply was severely depleted. He says:
“Watch, we’ll get up there, and there will only be 2 trees.”
To which Velma replies, “Good, we can each have one!”
Um, not sure what kind of math you’re doing, Velma, but last time I checked we were looking for 4 trees to split between 6 people. This frightens me deeply, as Velma works for a Credit Union (not telling you which one!).
We arrive at the tree farm to find that the tree supply is pretty depleted, but there are more than 2 trees. This makes picking out a tree relatively easy, as there aren’t a whole lot to choose from. My dad hikes around in his orange prison jumpsuit. My husband studiously analyzes each tree, keeping tabs on their every characteristic with the Excel spreadsheet that’s going in his head. I look for the weak stragglers, knowing full well that no one is going to let me take them home. Poor little unloved trees.
As Velma begins her hunt for the perfect tree, my husband begins to lecture her on how to make a good tree choice. He tells her you have to look for the 3 T’s of Christmas tree choosing. Um, the 3 T’s? Has anyone ever heard of the 3 T's? I sure haven't, and it takes me about 4 seconds to figure that D is full of shit, and just made that up on the spot because he likes the way it sounds. But, you've got to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, so I ask what the 3 T’s are.
D: “Triangular shape, tightness…”
D: “Of the branches” (with a look that says, “of course it’s of the branches, but I don’t expect you to know that”)
Me: “What’s the third T?”
D: “It’s um, uh,… well, um,… (triumphantly) Non-Tipping!!”
That’s not even a word. Oh, and it doesn’t begin with a T – which kind of throws off the whole ‘3 T’s’, theme, but hey, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. It occurs to me to mention that any tree that isn’t currently lying on the ground could be classified as non-tipping, seeing as how it is still standing upright, but then D would accuse me of not having holiday cheer. Whatever. He is having fun, Velma is doing a great job picking out her tree even without perfect alliteration, and overall everything is going well.
Anyhow, we cut down 4 trees. My dad and D haul them back to the truck. My dad looks like he is doing hard labor in a prison camp and D looks like an oversized 5 year old on Christmas morning, practically skipping with his tree in hand (did I mention they were very small trees?). He gets way too excited about the holidays for my taste, but I guess if it makes him happy I’m alright with it. We hauled the trees home without any of them falling out of the truck. My parents didn’t get pulled over and my dad didn’t get mistaken for an escaped convict. We were even able to remember which tree belonged to who when we returned. Overall, it was a successful tree-chopping trip! I’ve even managed to put my tree up and decorate it.
Now, if we could just figure out how to get rid of that orange prison jumpsuit…