The tree awaits

I got a really late start on Christmas this year, especially when it comes to the tree. It is sitting a few feet away as I write this (on the morning of Dec. 20) awaiting its lights and ornaments.
We came this close to not even getting a tree this year. Two weeks ago when I told my wife I was going for the tree the next day she said she had been meaning to talk to me about that. First, you must know that I am a “live” tree guy. It’s not negotiable. Yes, today’s artificial trees are incredibly realistic, and yes an artificial tree makes way more sense, but it’s just not me.
Anyway, what Mary Kay wanted to talk about was something she read on the internet. I often joke with my wife that if I never married her how would I know what’s wrong with me? I can same something similar about the internet. If it never were invented, how would we know what’s wrong with our lives?
What Mary Kay learned online about live Christmas trees is that they bring all sorts of bugs into your world. Including deer ticks, of which Mary Kay is deathly afraid. With good reason too. They are carriers of lyme disease which no one wants to get.
“Really?” I wanted to say. “Deer ticks? After all these years?”
But I was coming down with a cold and didn’t have the energy to argue. So I gave in. Okay, no tree.
What about artificial? she started to ask but knew what my reaction would be.
I’d rather have no tree than an artificial one.
End of story. Or so I thought.
We left the next week to visit my daughter and her family (husband, yes, but most importantly my one-year-old grandson) in Texas. My daughter, of course, asked me about my tree. She’s often heard me say if I am 85 years old and able to I will still put up a live tree.
When I told her my no-tree story, her eyes filled up with tears. “Oh, Dad. I’m gonna cry. You have to have a tree.”
When we got home Monday night, I told Mary Kay I’d be going for a tree first thing Tuesday morning. She just nodded in agreement. Guess she overheard Greta’s reaction.
Since the kids were little, and they haven’t been little in close to 30 years, I went to a Christmas tree farm and cut my own tree. I even own a tree saw of which I am quite proud. Several years ago, I left my saw behind at the tree farm. When I went to retrieve it, they had it leaning against the barn with a big red bow on it just waiting for me.
The past few years, though, I settled for a pre-cut tree. Typically a Frasier Fir but last year something called a Cork Bark. I get them at Helen & Ed’s Tree Farm near Nuangola.
I had the same thing in mind Tuesday morning. I was the only customer when I walked up to the young man and told him what I was looking for. “There’s a whole field of Frasiers and Cork Barks just beyond that barn,” he said.
“Not yet cut?” I asked.
“Nope,” he said, lacing up his boot.
I waited, figuring he’d go along with me but was quite surprised when he handed me a saw.
Cutting down that tree, the one standing near me right now, was one of the coolest Christmas experiences I’ve had in years. The physical act of cutting it and dragging it out of the field was one thing, but I think the real joy comes from almost not even having a tree at all.
And from knowing it is so important to my little girl.

Ed Ackerman