I fought the tree and the tree won

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By Patrick Yost


This is how my month has been going. I got in a fight with a Christmas Tree last week and didn’t win. In fact, the tree wiped up the floor with me. Granted, it was  a tough tree, but had I been feeling better and had my wife not been on the tree’s side, I think I could have taken it. Tree’s are fast and they can swat at you with a lot of different appendages, but once they’ve been cut down they lose all their stamina.

But not this one.

The fight started when I went to a local Christmas tree farm and picked out this gorilla tree. My wife, the lovely Mrs. Yost, had given me instructions for the tree. “I want a nice, big one,” she said “ I want a nice, big one.”

Evidently that is all I was thinking when I wandered on the lot. Do you ever notice how while you are at a tree farm, you can end up walking nearly to Atlanta before you’ve found the right tree? Just as the blade is ready to strike the stump, you’ll catch a glimmer of a nicer tree just over that mesa there, yes, there it is, near Athens. Invariably you go back to the first tree you saw from the car window, next to the cashier’s stand as you are driving in the lot.

And she wanted a big one.

So I found her one. It didn’t appear too large, out there in Christmas tree wasteland. In fact it was surrounded by trees nearly twice its size. I felt kind of sorry for the little fellow so I cut it down, drug it out of there and crammed it in my economy car. I say I crammed it in the car. Actually I only crammed half of the tree in the car. The rest of it I let hang out the hatch back. From the side, my car looked like some kind of weird Christmas animal with its tree tail wagging in the wind.

But that was all right. I had a big tree. My wife, the lovely Mrs. Yost, would be so proud. I had so much tree stuffed in the car I could not see out the rear window. I twas night now. I almost died 16 times on the way home. It was at this point that I am getting tense.

I get home. My wife, the lovely Mrs. Yost, is waiting at the door. “What a tree,” she says. “Is it going to fit?” she asked. Okay, so I figure at this point I’m batting .500, she likes the tree, now all I have to do is make it fit.

First I go and purchase a new tree stand. At this point I have expended $49.36 on my 1990 Christams tree. I remember when I was  a child my father would give me $5 to to purchase gifts for the entire family; that is four brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents. And I remember I always had change.

It is at this point that I go another level of tense, say tense; deacon two. The yellow lights are flashing.

I put the stand in. I stand the tree up, knocking over the lovely Mrs. Yost and stand back to admire my handiwork. I didn’t actually stand the tree up so much as jam it against the roof. I heard the stand crack. I saw approximately four feet of Christmas tree bent over and jeering luridly at me.

Too big.

Too bad, I told the lovely Mrs. Yost. I pad $37 for this tree. We keep it. I’ll trim the top off, I said. Which I tried to do with with a nice serrated edged knife. About two sacks with the knife and the tree started fighting back. It grumbled, it grabbed the knife and wouldn’t let go. Then my wife, the lovely Mrs. Yost, started siding with the tree. She told me only an idiot would get a tree that big. She told me only a blithering fool would think a tree that size would fit in our tiny room. She told me to do something (although they never tell you what). She told me to get another tree. I told her I had cashed in a U.S. Savings Bond to buy this one. She said she didn’t care. She wanted a tree and she wanted it now. I reach deacon four, the red lights are on. The Soviets have launched the missiles.

But I back down. I drag the tree to the hall. I got to a grocery store and pay $29 for a small, Charlie Brown type tree. I take it home and she decorates.

She asked me to decorate. But she asked me to pick out a tree, too. I knew better than to decorate. I would hate to lose a fight with the Christmas ornament, but I am firmly convinced that it can be done. Oh, yes, it can be done.

This column is reproduced from the December 13, 1990 edition of The Madisonian.

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