Terri Kaiser

Well, the tree is up, lighted, and trimmed. We only ran into one strand of lights that refused to cooperate. My husband fiddled with it awhile, until he decided it was a lost cause. I don't have patience for such things. If the darned thing doesn't want to work, it gets pitched.

The tree is a fake one. Yes, I know, embarrassing for someone who lives in the country here in Wisconsin, surrounded by a bounty of trees just waiting for their moment to shine over the holiday. But let's face it, fake trees stand up more reliably, have less mess, don't use any water, and rarely a curse is uttered as it is assembled.

When nostalgia surfaces for holidays past, I admit that I miss using a real tree, especially the evergreen scent (but they make candles for that). I simply can't bring myself to want to go back.

Trying to get a real tree to stay upright in a tree stand can strain the best of spirits. Eventually we'd have to run ties between the tree and the curtain rods to keep it from toppling over. And they are so unforgiving if you forget to water them. Just a few days and they shed like there's no tomorrow. Isn't it amazing that more houses didn't burn down in the days when they lit their trees with candles?

When I think back, my sisters and I following our dad into the woods to drag home a tree is a great memory. We did that several times with our boys, and when we didn't, we'd head to a tree farm. It was still a great time, full of excitement for the holiday. But there is one that stands out. That is the year I took the boys out myself into the woods, while my husband went to work on his deer stand.

We parked the pickup along the road at my mother-in-law's farm and trudged into the woods. The snow was knee-deep and it took some doing to break a trail. What I didn't realize was that there really were no small trees that were worthy of the honor of being our Christmas tree. So, we concentrated on the big trees. My great idea was to find a tree that we could cut the top off of. Now, since I only had a saw, this was going to be a trick.

When we found our tree, I climbed up, balanced on a branch, and began sawing at what I thought was a decent height for our living room. What I didn't count on was how long it would take to cut through the thing. And, sawing while hanging on is not something I recommend. Finally, I had it cut through enough that I was sure it would topple with just the touch of my mitten. Well, it didn't. I had maimed this poor tree; it wasn't coming down, and I couldn't get the saw back into the cut. This is where ingenuity really kicked in. I had the boys climb up the tree, grab onto branches and hang off one side of it. The darned thing still didn't give. So I hung off of it, too. We all tried to bounce by kicking our legs. Goodness gracious, we must have looked like a bunch of monkeys!

It wasn't long and the tree came down, and we all landed in the snow, in a heap. Then it was time to haul it out of the woods. Who would have thought it would be so heavy? It took all we had to pull the thing through the snow, huffing and puffing as we went. We got it to the pickup, but there was no way this tree was going to fit in the back; my husband had to saw it in half while shaking his head in disbelief.

My lumberjack relatives were most likely rolling in their graves at the total lack of skill I displayed in getting a simple Christmas tree. In the end, it was my favorite Christmas tree of all time. Good luck to all of you who still have to get your tree. And please, don't follow my example.

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