Author’s note: This was an email to siblings and their families that didn’t make it home for Christmas 2008 in Michigan:
One of our timeless family traditions entails gathering as many kids that are home and going off to the Christmas Tree farm with Dad to cut down our own tree. Usually, this is an enjoyable, satisfying holiday tradition culminating with a steaming cup of hot cocoa provided by Mom when we get home.
Well, the year of ’08 will live in infamy as the most opposite experience to the “enjoyable, satisfying” one we usually have. Here’s what happened….
My Dad, younger sister, Georgia and I piled into the car, a Subaru, to head out to the farm on Sunday afternoon. The old standby farm that we usually visit seems to have gone out of business so we had to find a new place. The ad for the new farm seemed to have everything we wanted it was a little farther away but they would shake and wrap the tree, which from experience we know is extremely convenient. So, we head out west. Now the weather was sunny, but the wind was blowing and it had snowed about 3 inches earlier in the day on top of the 10 inches from Friday. Dad says that the car is registering 9 degrees. Yikes! The road west is not too bad, the snow is swirling around, but it’s passable and not much traffic on the road. We then turn north and the road narrows and is much more snow covered, it’s drifting over in places. We’re thinking everything is going well until we hit this patch of road with lots of drifts, narrow and slippery…and there are 3 cars coming the other way just as we hit this section of road. Everyone moves over and we’re fishtailing a bit and barely miss hitting the 3rd car. Whew!
We make it the farm and we turn into the driveway, there’s a little drifting where the road and driveway meet, maybe 6 inches, but we don’t have any problems getting down it. It’s about 150 ft to the barn. We get the saw and the guy says we can find the size tree we’re looking for close to the barn so we don’t have to drive any further. So, we pile out of the car, with Georgia in tow, or maybe we are in tow to her. It’s really windy and at 9 degrees the wind chill is below zero, probably about -13 to -15. So, we look at maybe 3-4 trees and they are all nicely shaped so we pick one. My sister is elected to cut down the tree since both Dad and I have back problems, plus she’s the youngest and of course, does not get to vote. But first we have to dig it out since there is about 2 ft of snow piled up around the tree. So, she gets down in the snow and tries to figure out how to get the saw in there to cut it. She stops a few times to rest and clear the snow out of her eyes, but finally she gets it cut down, a super effort. So, now we have to get the tree back to the barn. We both pick it up at the trunk and pull it through about 2-3 ft snow drifts. The tree is really heavy because it’s also still got lots of snow caked on it as well and its slow going slogging through that snow. We try a few different ways of carrying it and finally get there. Meanwhile, Dad and Georgia have gone ahead to pay for the tree. BTW, Georgia loved bounding through the snow.
When we get to the barn we learn that they’ve put the shaker away and they can’t wrap it up because it’s too cold and the branches would break. So, our whole reason for coming out there is negated. With the help of one of the guys we heave the tree on top of the Subaru and tie it down. It’s still very windy, so we do the minimal we think will hold it on because we have to do the tieing gloveless and it’s not too long before we can’t feel our fingers. Ok, now we are ready to go. We think we may have been there about 45 minutes. We get stuck trying to get out the driveway where it’s drifted up. The snow is about up to the bottom of the door, but we can’t get through it. So, my sister and I hop out to try to push. Not working. One of the guys comes along to help and it’s still not working. So, we look and at least one of the front wheels is not even touching the ground, it’s still spinning as we sit there and look at it. So, one of the guys has a shovel and he goes back to get it and digs out around the tires. It works. However, we have to retie the tree on because it’s falling off, another ordeal with no gloves on. And the wind is blowing steadily and it’s miserable. We get back in the car and then see that the driveway has drifted shut at the road, it’s at least 2 ft, maybe more. So, I run back to the guys who are sitting in their truck watching us struggle and get 2 shovels from them. We dig out their driveway for them. Then we get Dad onto the road and hop back into the car almost while it’s still moving because we don’t want to get stuck again.
All this time we are saying this better be the best damn tree we’ve ever had. We get home without further incident although the roads are getting worse and there is more drifting. We get the tree off the car and set it in the garage for a while. We needed to rest and get that hot cocoa with additive to recuperate a bit. There is still a lot of snow on the tree close to the trunk. We get it in to the back porch and leave it there for the snow to melt off it, because it wasn’t going to do it in the garage at 9 degrees. After dinner, most of the snow is melted, there are huge puddles on the floor. Since it wasn’t wrapped it’s really wide and bushy. We manage to force it through all the doorways and move it in to the living room, its final resting place, probably until next summer, since it was such an ordeal to get it there. We will decorate tonight, now that it’s had time to dry out for a day.
Don’t you wish you were here for the Christmas Tree hunt? Believe me, we were thinking about you guys while we were out there suffering.
The saga continues. I believe I left off last time just before we were going to decorate the tree. So, we decorated Monday evening and there are lots of stars and angels and snowflakes and teapots on the tree. It looked great. So, last night (Tuesday) we are sitting around watching TV, enjoying our coffee and we’re looking at the tree and it appears to be crooked.
We thought we’d put some shims under it to straighten it up (plan A). Well, after doing that it appeared even more crooked and then seemed to be really leaning and then whoops, almost falling down. Good thing we caught it. One side of the plastic tree stand had split around the pin and it was giving way under the weight of the tree.
So, Dad and I then embarked upon plan B. We first thought about using clamps to hold one side of the tree stand to the other, but the tree was in the way and Dad didn’t have anything deep enough to really fit around the side of the stand.
Ok, so plan C was to undue all the other pins and push the tree up straight, redo the 3 remaining good pins and then put some wood shims down the broken side of the stand, to reinforce the plastic. But in order to get that to work we had to twist the tree in the stand because there was a big knot in the tree trunk facing the broken side. So, while I’m sticking my fingers down along the tree trunk to see whether it would work. Dad ran up and down stairs to the basement a few times to get pieces of wood in varying thicknesses and widths and lengths. It worked! Yay! My abs got a real workout after spending an hour on my back under the tree. It now looks perfectly straight. Just to be on the safe side we took off all of the really breakable ornaments over night and this morning it was still standing. We put the decorations back on and moved some things around, since it was twisted, a lot of ornaments were now on the back of the tree.
I hope this is the end of the saga, but undoubtedly something will happen so, ‘til next time, Happy Holidays!