Parenting: "The Story of the Stump"

December 6, 2010

The family tradition is to head to the local tree farm during the first week of December. And in my never-ending quest to seek ways to solidify my own manhood, I of course cut the tree down myself.

All four of us take a tractor ride to the field. We arrive at the part of the farm that is ready for the Christmas tree harvest. And it usually takes me 30 seconds to find the perfect tree. My wife would prefer to keep looking. This year, I won out.

Why is that? Why is the guy so quick to pull the tree trigger? Why is the woman always seeking, um, perfection? Perhaps this is another example of how each gender seeks a mate. Let's get back to the tree.

It was just tall enough, just full enough and just slender enough. I got down on one knee and told my son to get ready to catch the tree when it falls.

"Get ready to catch the tree when it falls," I said.

"Okay, dad."

The saw was nice and sharp. The tree was felled in a matter of 45 seconds. Only 15 seconds longer than it took to find it.

We picked up the tree and headed back for the tractor. It hadn't even left yet.

They shook it of loose needles, tied it up, we paid for it and a nice young man helped tie it to the roof of our car. We listened to Christmas music on the way home.

Normally we would pull our car into the garage upon returning home. And normally that would not be a problem. And of course I would forget that there is now a tied-up tree perched on the roof of our car, making entry into our garage difficult, if not impossible.

The trunk slammed into the garage frame. Luckily I caught myself before exacting any further damage.

We place the tree near the back door so we could prepare for its entry into our home. I also began what I hope will be another edition to this annual set of activities.

My daughter and I set out for the woods to locate the Christmas Tree of 2009. It was right where I left it. Now, however, it was bare of any green needles, somewhat coated in leaves, and primed for a raging fire.

We dragged the ol' tree to our firepit and I began hacking off limbs and chopping the trunk into smaller segments. Usually a small gas-fueled igniter is enough to get the fire going, but on this day it was too cold. Some extra "fuel" with a bit more of a kick helped enflame a freshly-struck match. The fire was on.

And the flames got really high. I mean, REALLY high.

In fact, that old Christmas tree went up like an old Christmas tree.

Within two minutes, the thing was a big pile of blackened limbs and ash. Which is 45 seconds longer than the total amount of time it took to find this year's replacement and cut it down.

Meanwhile, my wife and children were inside preparing our decorations. I brought the new tree in, placed it in the tree stand, adjusted it until it was just perfect, gave it a drink and sat down to rest.

This, quite frankly, is where the whole thing gets a bit foggy. I'm not much for decorating during the holidays, mostly because what comes up, must come down. It's sort of like making the bed. You're just going to get right back into it less than a day later…

But thanks to the enthusiasm of the rest of my family, the tree decorating was completed. Somehow.

Hopefully, Santa will come and do his part.

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