Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Tree Hunter

I have previously told a story about how Christmas trees worked at my house when I was a kid. You can read that here. That, though, is not the way Christmas trees work in my house as an adult.

For a couple of years, I suppose, after my wife and I got married, we bought our Christmas tree at a tree lot, but that didn't last. At some point, we fell back into the tradition she had had as a child, which was to go to a tree farm and hunt and kill a tree every year. I have been that hunter.

Not that we all didn't go, but I have traditionally been the one to have final say on the tree. For many reasons:

  1. I have the highest standards of tree quality (and if you did go back and read that story, you will understand why).
  2. I'm the one that has to deal with the tree and all of its various needs.
  3. Because of #2, the tree has to meet certain... safety criteria. For instance, one year, we got a tree that was entirely to stabby, and it scratched me up and caused me to have some kind of allergic reaction. It wasn't fun.
  4. I have the highest standards of tree quality. (Did I say that already? I don't think I did.)
So we'd wander around the tree farm, and various children would suggest trees that were too tall or too wide and my wife would suggest trees that had holes in them or had some other defect. Eventually, I'd wander away from them and find a tree; wait around for a while for one of them to come looking for me; when that didn't happen, try yelling for one of them; when that didn't work, venture only so far away as I could still see the tree and look for them and yell some more; when no one responded, mark the tree in some way and move to a better vantage point and yell some more. The yelling almost never worked, but I would finally catch sight of someone and send whoever it was to gather everyone to where I was. They'd all look at the tree I'd found and, yes, agree that that was indeed the tree, and I'd kill it and have it bagged, and we'd take it home.

I've gotten pretty good at locating trees that meet our (my) specifications. So much so that the last couple or few years I've been told, "We can't just take the first tree you find. We have to look more." So we'd look and, then, come back to that first tree, and I'd kill it.

My oldest is about to turn 18 which somehow translated into him getting to be the tree killer this year.
It started innocently enough. I sent him to select the tree killing weapon.
That's it there in his hand as he's arguing about what tree to kill. Okay, that's probably not what's going on there, but I don't actually remember what's going on there even though I took the picture, so they're arguing over what tree to kill. Yes, I'm writing the history as I go along (but at least I'm telling you what I'm changing). When he brought the weapon back, I went to take it from him, and I received the "no, I've got it" response. Usually, that response to anything directly precedes some disaster or another as whoever is saying it shows that, in fact, no, he does not got it. Yes, you could say I was nervous at that point.

So we started up the hill, and, almost immediately, I found the perfect tree. In fact, it was so perfect that there was a lag before my wife said, "No, we can't just take the first tree you find. We have to look more." So we noted the spot and continued hunting. Next, my wife found a tree. A tree that I vetoed because it had a bad branch. But she liked the bad branch, only agreeing with me on the veto because we, also, couldn't just take the first tree she found.

We wandered around and, somehow, I became nothing more than the cameraman. I did wander off and found a couple of other good trees, not as good as the first one, but no one else really liked them. Mostly, I just took pictures.
The other son. I think he's using the Force on this tree.
The lone red tree on a hill of green.
Because persimmons are weird.

Eventually, we ended up back down at that first tree, which everyone agreed was perfect. Until my wife said it was "too perfect." By that point, though, I was just the cameraman, so I just followed along taking pictures as we went looking for the tree with the bad branch. And that is the tree everyone agreed we should get... because it wasn't perfect.

Oldest Son went to work with his weapon.
He's helped before, but he's never done a whole tree by himself. Let's just say his technique is lacking. It took him a looong time to bring that tree down. And he wouldn't let me help or show him anything, either; he just kept saying, "I've got this."
But nothing bad happened. I mean, it took a while, but there were no severed limbs or anything. Only a severed trunk. And, soon, we had my Oldest's first kill.
And, yes, I should have taken some pictures of him carrying the tree down the hill, but, for some reason, I just didn't. And, yes, we carry our trees down the hill. He did ask after he cut it down, "Where's the cart for the tree?" I just shrugged and said, "I always carry the tree, so we didn't bring one. Do you want me to carry it?" Can you guess his response? "No, I've got this."

And he did.

In case you missed it, over the weekend:
I did a guest post over at THe GaL iN THe BLue MaSK all about how writing is easy or it's not. Click the link to go and read it.

Also, Konstanz Silverbow, over at No Thought 2 Small, is giving away some books for Christmas. Day four is "Christmas on the Corner"! Drop by her site to sign up to win and check out the other books being offered while you're there.


  1. That's a great story! You're so funny, and your family is adorable. Congrats to oldest son on his First Kill. ;)

  2. This is a lovely family tradition and it looks like you've successfully handed it down to the next generation.

    Have fun decorating it and good luck with hoovering up the dried needles after Christmas~

  3. I remember tree hunting being at times quite painful as a kid. My wife and I have gotten quite good at it; we're much faster and more efficient than we used to be. We did cut our own tree once--saw Robert Redford at the tree farm, strangely enough.

  4. You should've gotten pictures of him carrying the tree.
    Tree hunting is easy for us. We put up the first tree we find in the closet.

  5. We used to take the kids to the tree farm for our tree. They started moving out and it was just easier getting an artificial tree. I think mine has seen it's last Christmas though. This is it's thirteenth Christmas and this year started shedding it's fake needles.

  6. That's great that your family gets to experience this tradition. I always wanted to do this growing up but my parents didn't want a live tree, so we settled for plastic. Now that I'm old enough... I have no desire to go out in the cold with an axe and chop one down.

    You have reviews, btw. Check 'em out when you can. And I'll shoot you a reply e-mail some time soon.

  7. We are just like Alex, first tree we find in the storage room.

  8. At some point in my adult life - my tree was a poster of a tree that I hung in the den. I threw the presents against the wall and the kid loved it. I did too. I got that tree down in no time.

    Now that was a good Christmas. Later, since we live so close to my mother's place, I dedicated that as our Christmas home, then I didn't have to bother hanging onto that poster any more. It got ragged pretty quick.

    And that's the tradition we still follow: Christmas is at Grandma's!

  9. Lexa: Thank you for saying so :)

    Anne: Hopefully, the vacuum cleaner can make it through another year. It just spent a few months being really sick.

    JeffO: Wow, Robert Redford! That's cool!

    Alex: Yeah, I should have. I'm not sure what happened, but I must have gotten distracted by something.

    G_G: yeah, That's probably a sign that it's time for a new tree.

    ABftS: There was no place to go cut your own tree when I was a kid. The idea that you could do this was a bit shocking to me when I found out.

    Thanks for the reviews! I love reviews!

    Jo: Um... how many trees do you have in there?

    Rusty: Even if we had Christmas somewhere else, we'd have to have a tree. I'm kind of impressed that you don't.

  10. What a nice tradition! They really should just go with your superior tree-finding ability already. :-P

  11. LOL! Wait, you kill trees for Christmas? Monster! ;)

  12. I am totally envious of people who actually go out and hunt their Christmas tree. Me? I take the easy way out--fake every year. The cleanup of a real tree gives me the hibbie-jibbies.

  13. My wife and I have a tree in a box. It's easy, low maintenance, doesn't affect her allergies, and I hate it.
    The parents still go hunting. And the tree we get (if I go with them because my dad's 70 and shouldn't be hoisting trees (though he does)) can't be perfect either. We have a series of Winnie the Pooh ornaments that have to be placed within a secret nook in the tree... So the tree needs a nook. A hollow. A Pooh hole, if you will.

  14. Also (after having perused your site) I freaking LOVE painting miniatures! I just haven't had the space or materials to do it since I was in my teens...
    This is a future goal of mine... To get my sons into cool stuff like this. I've already gotten Donavon (my 13 yr old) into Magic: The Gathering

  15. Misha: That's what I'm saying!

    Crystal: Yes! Trees fear me more than they fear beavers or termites! But only once a year. And only at that one tree farm. Hmm... Maybe they don't really fear me all that much...

    Alyssia: Oh, yeah, the clean up is horrible, and I have to drag my vacuum out of hiding every January 2. Last year, it dug a hole under the house, and I was only able to get it because it forgot to pull its cord in after it.

    David: heh That's cool with the tree hollow. We don't have any Pooh ornaments, but we do have Star Wars stuff on the tree.

    I'm hoping to be able to set aside some time to start painting again in the spring and to spend some time doing it next summer. I just need to make some space in the garage.
    Did you see my Magic posts?

  16. Wait, you have to hunt the tree? It doesn't seem like they'd need that much pursuit.

    It looks like your son caught a good one.

  17. So that's what a tree farm looks like! I had visions of you all trekking through deep mounds of snow into the wilderness looking for trees, for some reason.
    Looks like you all had fun!

  18. Jeanne: Oh, they can move really fast when they want to. You'd be surprised.

    RG: Well, we don't have snow here. the last time there was any real snow here was in the 60s or something.

  19. Passing along the torch, er...saw. Looks like fun! We cut down a tree one year, but never did it again. Traipsing into the deep snow in the mountains was cold and exhausting. When I was a kid, there were a few years that we got trees that would come in barrels, with roots still intact. We'd decorate and water the tree, then plant it out back when Christmas was done. I loved that, and have been considering starting again. I think we had three trees planted in the backyard before we moved.

    The Warrior Muse

  20. An allergic reaction? Yikes!

    I really love the family aspect of this post. It's truly what the holiday is about. That, and passing down a family tradition.

    (I also thought it was cool you guys didn't take the "perfect tree.")

  21. Andrew, I haven't seen (read: couldn't find) your Magic posts!

  22. Shannon: heh If we planted three trees in our backyard, we wouldn't have a backyard.

    Elsie: It is cool. And the tree looks good.

    David: I left you a link.

  23. You take your Christmas tree gathering very seriously. Good fun. Happy Christmas !

  24. Denise: It's a very serious enterprise!
    And Merry Christmas to you, too!

  25. Tree killing! We used to go shopping for trees when we had a house with high ceilings, but once we moved to California, nature-preservation-guilt and low ceilings made us switch to living Christmas trees. Never as fun to decorate, and heavy as hell (I also felt like I was always strangling the poor branches)... but still a Christmas tree.

    In any case, nice post. Good on your son. :)

  26. Alex: Well, the tree farm is pretty good at cycling trees, so I think that's probably more environmentally friendly than a fake tree. Not that I'm an expert.