There’s really two stories ball up in the epic of The Christmas Tree From Hell. Be patient as I tell the tale that my wife usually spins better than I do. But I will try to do it justice and pass along a little bit of wisdom that I carry with me to this day and occasionally use to remind my wife of the importance of living in the now.
The story starts a year or so before we got married. About 30 years ago now. My wife-to-be (I’ll call her George, because that’s what I call her) was living with her cousin in a small, two bedroom house. There wasn’t a whole lot of room to decorate, but my wife loves Christmas and was excited to get a real tree and put it up in her humble home.
George wanted a real tree for Christmas. A fake one that never really looked alive would never do. So we borrowed her dad’s pickup truck and drove up into the mountains to a Christmas Tree farm. Armed with an old, rusty saw, we marched confidently through the entrance and began winding out way through the maze of trees in search of the perfect one. It didn’t take us very long before a promising prospect appeared in front of us. tall, full, and even, it was a beautiful tree.
But was it the perfect tree?
The only way to find out was to look around a little more to see if a perfecter tree waited for us.
I told her that the tree was just fine and would fit right into the place she wanted to put it. There weren’t a whole lot of people around, so she was confident that if we didn’t find a better tree, we could just come back and get that one. I warned her that she didn’t want to lose her Christmas Tree, but she insisted.
We ran the maze again, giving all the trees a second look, but nothing really compared to the first tree and she decided that the first tree was the perfectist tree she was going to find.
We went back to cut it down only to see another family taking a saw to it.
Se we started our search over again. This time we found a tree that would more than suffice. We walked around it. It was about 6 1/2 feet tall with full branches that were symmetrical all around. In many respects, it was better than the first tree. All we had to do was cut it down.
And drag it across the snow, over the fallen barbed wire fence, and back into the Christmas tree farm that we’d strayed out of by about ten yards.
Sounds easy, right?
Our first indication that we were on the wrong path was that it wasn’t as easy to cut down as it should have been. The clearance between the ground and the bottom branches was very low and the needles were very sharp. They weren’t the typical Christmas tree needles. They looked more like nested cones with serrated edges.
But it was still a beautiful tree and we finally cut it down. We paid the ranch for the tree we’d taken from the neighbor’s property, loaded it up in the back of the truck, and took it home.
We felt kind of bad taking the tree that was outside of the property line of the farm, but we consoled ourselves by the fact that we paid for it.
I bought the largest tree stand that I could find, but it was still way too small for oversized trunk. I had to cut a significant part off to make it fit. I put lights on it, which was no easy feat. Hiding the wires inside the branches and wrapping the lights around the boughs cut my arms up pretty good. But eventually, my job was done. It was time for my George to decorate it. She had just as much trouble as I did, but we were fully invested in this tree and had already crossed the Rubicon. It was ours. We’d have to suck it up and deal with it.
Finally, it stood bright and beautiful in the corner of the small living room. The perfect size, and although it had been a pain in the ass from the minute we started cutting it down, it was finally finished. It was occasionally leaned and had to be adjusted so that it wouldn’t fall, but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle. It wouldn’t cause us any more real problems until it was time to take it down 30 days later.
It attacked George’s cousin/roommate. Out of nowhere, and for no apparent reason, this tree decided to jump out of the shadows and fall right on top of her, knocking her to the ground and bloodying her up.
That was it – the tree had to go.
We took the decorations and lights off of it at the cost of more cuts and leaking of red stuff, dragged it across the living room, and tossed it out the front door and into the yard.
When George went back into the house, she could see pine needles in the carpet between the corner where it had stood and the front door. She got down at eye-level and could see more pine needles that carpet.
What she needed was a Hoover.
At least, that’s what she thought she needed. Until she noticed that instead of pickup the pine needles up, the vacuum was just embedding them deeper into the carpet. Many painstaking hours later of meticulously picking every needle out of the carpet one by one, George was finally rid of that tree once and for all. And good riddance.
But she had a neighbor who was a solo mother with small children in the house. She couldn’t afford a Christmas tree and asked about the one unceremoniously dumped in our front yard. We told her that she didn’t want that tree. We told her about all of the trouble we’d had with that tree. We told her that it was the Christmas Tree from Hell.
She still wanted it.
Fine. Go ahead. Take it. We certainly don’t want it. Via con Dios.
Flash forward a few days after Christmas. We saw George’s neighbor and she came over to talk to us. She thanked us for the tree. It was beautiful. Her children loved it. She said it was the best tree she’d ever had.
We couldn’t believe it. The neighbor didn’t experience any of the trouble we had with that tree. How could that have happened.
We learned a few things from this experience.
- Patiently find what you are looking for, but once you find it, act on it. Waiting for something better to come along may only result in your losing it. Whenever George puts something off in favor of hoping for something better, I tell her that she’s going to lose her Christmas Tree. She instantly knows what I mean.
- Just because you paid for it, doesn’t mean that it’s right.
- Call if fate. Call it karma. Call it Kismet. What goes around, comes around. Be sure your sins will find you out.
- One person’s trash is another’s treasure. Our own personal hell was the neighbor’s delight.
- Even when you get it wrong, God can still use it.