I lost a Christmas tree one year. Go ahead, shake your head and scold me, I can already hear you.." Yarger, I can understand losing the remote, but seriously a Christmas tree?" It wasn't like that though. In my defense, that tree never even saw the inside of our house....
Isn't life hard enough without starting harder traditions than your family passed on? Yes, but that's our nature in this family. As far as I can recall my mom and dad never rounded the kids up and went off in the woods to cut down our own Christmas tree. Now, that's not to say my siblings might not have done this with them, but by the time I started remembering things, I don't recall a single foray into the woods with my folks. I have some vague recollections of picking one up at St. Mary's or from the Boy Scouts, but you can't prove it by me, that I was ever involved in an actual tree hunt. Why then did Char and I start the tradition of bundling toddlers and all up and hiking through the tree farms to find the perfect tree that we all like and can agree upon? Because we are stupid, that's why.
|You can't see us, we are way, way, in the back|
It was a few weeks before Christmas, and Char and I had heard about a good tree farm in Bristol NY. We bundled up Molly, who was a toddler then, and my brother Ace rode over with us to pick out a tree too.
|Dan, one year guarding his choice.|
It turns out the tree farm was vastly overrated, and it took the better part of an hour before all of us found 2 trees that would pass muster. We could only fit one inside the van, so we tied the other to the top with whatever we could find inside and headed for home. We got about 1/4 mile away before the wind got underneath it and flipped it off the van and into the road. After a mad scramble to re-secure it, we gave it a second attempt with the same result, we were 28 miles away from home and were destined to lose the tree every quarter mile. It dawned on me that my dad's recently built house was only a few miles from there and he had a pickup, so we decided to leave the tree on the roadside and go ask dad to borrow his truck. This was not an easy decision, as my dad raised us all to be independent, and he likely taught Ben Franklin "Neither a borrower nor a lender be", but we had no choice, so off we went. He really didn't give us much of a hard time and in less than 10 minutes we were back standing in front of where we thought we had left the tree. I say "thought" because the area looked identical to where we had been....except there was no tree.
|Ace and I examining the scene, I'm the pretty one.|
Now CSI was 10 years from being thought up but even Grissom would have been proud of our canvassing of the area and our identification of the pine needles that were strewn about. I think Ace even rubbed some deer dung between his fingers to test his working theory of the woodland animals needing a tree, but it was 2 days old so Bambi and pals were cleared. What was left were 2 perplexed, cold, brothers standing on the roadside missing one out of two trees, and of course when we checked, it was my tree that was missing. One of the only things worse than spending close to an hour combing a thin tree farm for a good Christmas tree, is to do it twice in one day. Those were the hardest 25 dollars that ever left my hands, but after we went home and after it was up and decorated, it became like every other tree we had brought home, beautiful and ours. I really didn't give it much more thought, that was, until 7 years later eating lunch at the end of that same road.....
It's a good story so far, isn't it? I agree, it lacks something, how about a surprise ending?
So that year I was on that road a lot. I sold food to the local restaurants and my mom's house was there, so a couple days a week I would find myself on Rte 64 in Bristol NY. A lot of weeks I would pick up food from Rumor's restaurant at Toomey's Corners and bring a cheeseburger to my mom and have lunch with her while I placed my morning orders.
|Old gas station at Toomey's Corners (Rumors is back left)|
|Nolan in front of his handiwork one year|
He said that particular Christmas, to his kids, was indistinguishable from the others that they had, because of that tree. He recovered from his injury and hadn't had a lean year since that one. He insisted on buying both my mom's and my lunches and we shook hands, and I departed with a new found friend and a great story to tell. You see, my Christmas had been indistinguishable from my others too, I had the extra 25 dollars, and the time, so it hadn't impacted me at all, until he told me his story. Then it impacted me, where it counts, in the heart, and not my wallet. So I did lose a Christmas tree one year, but I got back a little of my humanity. It was a good deal.