Well, here it is, my very own Clark Griswold Christmas moment has happened. Every year, my beloved thinks we should venture out into the woods and cut down our own Christmas tree. This is the year that I caved, call it a moment of weakness, but we packed up the minivan to head off into the wilderness in search of the perfect tree. In December, in northern Minnesota...in DECEMBER. Did I mention that this time of year in this neck of the woods it's complete madness to spend any more time outside than it takes your brain to register the ungodly temperature? Yeah, okay, so let's go out into the woods and look for a tree. Because I still love the man I married all those many years ago, we packed in the manner of an army division out on maneuvers and began our quest. Five minutes in, my beloved realized we had forgotten one very important item, after double checking the winter survival kit, the box of extra socks, hats, gloves and thermal undies, the bag of snacks and beverages and the backpack full of diversions for the kids, he established that we had not included a means of cutting down our victim...er, tree. This was indeed a necessary item that dictated a return to the homestead. After only one false start, a record of sorts for us, we made our way to the local wildlife refuge, paid the ten bucks for the privilege and wandered off into the frozen wild in search of the Holy Grail of trees. We would know it when we saw it, it would be bathed in a golden light from above, a chorus of angels would see and the surrounding landscape would drift out of focus,easy enough, right? Sure...it's that easy, really. Following an hour of tripping over fallen trees (the rejects from previous Christmases, I expect), stumbling into gopher holes and a particularly harrowing encounter with a rather nasty wild turkey, the Grail seemed hopelessly lost to us. Perhaps we had not been deemed worthy to receive such a prize. With the temperature in the single digits and the wind chill hovering somewhere near -20 F, we decided that close was going to have to be good enough. We turned to see a pretty good looking tree, nice and full, straight-ish trunk that was roughly six inches across, non long-needled...works for me. Commence the second ritual, the cutting of the tree. With visions of every cartoon character that has ever attempted to cut down a tree dancing in my head, our prey soon lay at our feet. The next step was to drag the tree back through the woods, back over its fallen bretheren, avoid both the gopher holes and the wild turkey (which apparently had called for backup) and get it onto the top of my minivan. This is the point that I realized my van doesn't have a luggage rack, darn. After several different configurations of both rope and tree, we're now secure and ready for the trip home...with both windows open a bit to accomodate the rope that would keep the tree from launching off the top of my van as we hurtle toward the warmth and comfort of home.
This is when things REALLY got interesting, once we got home. I'll admit my culpability right here and now, I have no eye for distance and I'm the one who forgot the tape measure. My beloved did point out that the tree seemed pretty big once we got it on top of the van and we had trunk visible as we looked through the windshield as well as several feet obscuring the back window. But honestly, it's not THAT big and we have fairly high ceilings in the house, it'll be FINE. Okay, so we have ten foot ceilings...and a seventeen foot tree. This may be harder than we think. There's the tree, taking up quite a bit of space on the boulevard; there's the front door, looking rather narrower than I remember it; and there's my living room, looking much smaller that it ever has. My youngest son suggested we keep it on its side, remove the couch from the living room and decorate it sideways. My elder son suggested trying to bend the top to fit into the room. My beloved simply gave me the hairy eyeball and shook his head. Okay FINE, this one's on me. After severing the tree roughly in half, checking AGAIN for confused wildlife, the tree now stands (I was going to say proudly, but that's not quite accurate) in the corner of the room, tinseled and popcorned, dazzling all who lay eyes upon it. Clark Griswold would get misty, I'm sure of it.
Maybe it's time to consider a fake tree,blasphemy, I know...but a whole lot easier and no wild turkeys to contend with.