For the past decade, our family has gone to the mountains Thanksgiving weekend to cut down our Christmas tree. It’s a pretty big deal.
We get two, and I’m sort of picky. Most years Lisa and the girls would end up in the car as I meticulously combed through each tree on the lot. I mean seriously, how can you choose one until you’ve reviewed them all? You gotta browse, test drive, measure, envision - it's a very important decision.
I’ve been known to lay on the ground in front of the tree to ensure that it is wide enough for the space in our den – six feet works well. We have A LOT of ornaments, plus I like big stuff. I don't want a petite tree. I want a hunkin' manly one - I want to yell TTTTiiiiimmmber as it falls to the ground. You don't get to say that often.
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One year I overshot the height, and we had to cut off about a third of the tree. It looked odd. But it was big.
Since Lisa died, I sort of count the day at the tree farm as a passage – I 'm a little bit further down the road.
The first year after she died, Uncle Jesse went with us to cut down the tree. It was really nice to have him there although the two country men running the farm determined that we were a gay couple. They were snickering behind the barn as we coerced another hand to take our family Christmas card photo. It sort of ticked me off – I thought maybe we were beyond giggling about that. Plus, if I was gay, I wouldn't pick him! He's just not that good-looking, and he really isn't very good around the house.
Before we left, I introduced them to my brother-in-law and let them know my wife had recently died of colon cancer – the giggles dissipated.
Last year we stayed in a sort of seedy motel. The kids thought the television was a microwave –
“Where’s the door dad?”
“The door to what?”
“The door to the microwave.”
“That’s not a microwave, it’s a TV!”
“But it has brown paneling.”
My kids are so dang privileged.
We went to a nearly empty restaurant with a one man band. The girls and I danced under the mirror ball.
I thought this year was going to go off like a charm. I was quicker than usual and actually managed to choose two trees from the $5 off lot. Both were small enough to load onto the top of Uncle Matt’s car. But after I’d made my choices and gotten the kids’ approval, they disappeared. When I finally found them, they had planted themselves around a tiny tree that had been lost among the tall ones.
“Look Charlie Brown, we have two, don’t need another, let’s go.”
And clearly in a rehearsed voice, all three said, “We’re not leaving without him!”
Yes, much like the Hostess employees, they had a minivan walkout. The union had spoken, and there was no room for negotiation.
When I discovered it too was on the $5 off lot and would cost me a mere Lincoln, I was swayed. Some things just aren’t worth the trouble.
When Lisa died one of her “House Rules” was: Gang up on dad when he won’t do something that you know I’d approve of.
These chickens are taking her at her word. It’s a hard argument for a tired old man.