When Cutting Down A Christmas Tree Almost Causes A Divorce

Last year John and I almost divorced because the Christmas tree we cut down was too big.  OK, using the word "big" to describe that tree is an understatement.  The tree was so colossal, it almost didn't fit

in our yard

let alone in our



And OK, maybe the whole "we almost got a divorce" thing is also a bit dramatic,  but trust me when I tell you that tree was the cause of many fights.

I'll admit it:  I have a thing for lush, full Christmas trees.  I blame my mother, who also is Christmas tree obsessed.  When I was a kid, I remember by mom and dad taking us all to the lot to pick out a tree and every year they same conversation took place:

Dad:  What about this one?

Mom:  (aghast at his minute, spiny selection) No, it's much too small.  Plus, it's filled with holes.  Do you see them?

Dad:  What holes? (cue obligatory walk around tree to search for signs of "holes")

Mom:  (waving at some gaping vague spot on the tree)  It's a Charlie Brown tree.  Totally unsuitable.

It wasn't until my mother "stumbled" upon the sixteen footer section of the lot where the trees required special tractors to move them to customers' vehicles that she seemed happy to even consider purchasing a tree.

But the tree ordeal didn't end there because then the Colonel had to put on the lights.

Oh, the lights.

There were never enough on the tree, according to my mother.  I remember one year the tree my mom picked out was so full, when my dad finished stringing all the multicolored twinkles--after it had fallen over at least six times and he'd finally rigged it to three corners of the room--he was covered in sap.

He was also cussing.


I've inherited this familial need to own a BIG tree.  It's real and it runs deep.  As soon as I walk onto grounds of the Christmas farm we go to every year, I feel myself channeling Clark Griswold.  Greed overcomes me and all I can think is "ME WANT BIG AND BEAUTIFUL TREE."

My selection process goes like this:

1.  The tree can not be scrawny or overpriced.

2.  The tree must be selected in its natural habitat--the great outdoors--not in some garage or makeshift lot.

3.  The tree must smell like a Christmas tree is supposed to smell--emitting an

intoxicating scent of fir that reminds me why it's good to be alive.

4.  The tree must look how its supposed to look--tapered and full, without holes.

3.  The branches must be sturdy, lush, and thick.

As you can imagine finding one that fits this criterion is like finding

Camille at Khol'

s.  As a result, Picking The Perfect One is a process-- a long, painful process.

Last year was like every year before it, except I had just given birth to my sixth baby who was a mere 10 days old.  The temperature on the day we went to cut down was also in the teens, so what is usually an enjoyable experience was riddled with the onset of frostbite.

The funny thing was, both John and I had the idea to swing by Home Depot and grab a pre-cut tree from the lot.  With a new baby in the mix, we knew we needed to keep things simple and picking a pre-cut tree would be a step in the right direction.

But neither of us wanted to make the suggestion.

We felt like we were abandoning tradition, stomping on the memories we desired to make with our children.  So we pressed on, in all our insanity, and we (shall I say 'I'?) picked out a tree that was the absolute worst tree we've ever had.

(Many a year we've also had to wire our gigantic trees to walls to keep them from falling on children, so saying this tree was bad is


saying something.)

The tree itself had a c-shaped trunk, which made it practically impossible for John to cut it down.  What should have taken less than five minutes to accomplish, took him about forty-five.

In the frozen tundra.

While four rambunctious children wrestled each other to the ground and repeatedly asked for hot chocolate.

Did I mention he also didn't have a way to drag the monstrosity of a tree back the five miles  to the car?  Becasue he didn't.  He had to drag a tree triple his weight tree back to the van while wrangling wild kids as he went. (I took one for the team and went back to wait--in the heated vehicle--with the newborn and Camille.  I know, that's me.  Always thinking of others.)

When he finally arrived back to the van, John then had to load the beast, which presented a problem of its own.

Our fifteen passener is tall, so strapping the tree to the roof isn't really an option.  Even a person over six feet in height would have trouble hoisting a sucker that big and that heavy on top of our swagger wagon.  We usually take one of rows out of the van and load the tree in the back, but even with the removed seating the tree didn't fit.

One of the employees finally came over and helped John finagle a way to fit the tree over the top of the seats.  They had to carefully maneuver it so it wouldn't hit the kids in the head or stick them in the eye with pine needles.  The entire drive home the kids complained about being poked in the face by pine.

The situation worsened from there.

Once we finally arrived home and unloaded the tree (which took an enormous amount of time and energy because again...we had brought Big Bertha home) and John put it in the stand, I complained that the tree was tilted to one side.

"It's crooked," I said.  "You need to fix it."

So John went out and bought a new stand.  He then went through the arduous task of taking the gigantic tree down from the first stand and putting it up again in another stand.

Except the tree trunk was so fat, it didn't fit in the stand we purchased.  It didn't fit in the two other stands we purchased after that, either.

Cue a marital discussion about stupid stands.

Cue a marital disccsuion that may have involved cursing about the stupid stands.

Cue marital discussions about selecting ridiculously large and way-too-fat Christmas trees.

Cue threats to throw the Christmas tree out if I didn't get over the fact the tree was going to be tilted and weird looking.

I eventually bit the bullet and accepted the tree would remain crooked.  I also had to admit that the tree was entirely too big and that I did indeed have a tree problem.  I may have even promised to tone it down a bit next year.

Last year's tree in all it's Christmas glory.  It was a sight...and so fat I couldn't get it in the frame.

Fast forward to this past weekend.

We returned to our beloved Christmas tree farm and once there, I texted my mom, dad, and my sister, Sarah, this picture.  Note Sarah's remarks, please.

But no one--neither my mom, dad or my sister, Sarah-- believed my small tree claims.  In fact, my dad--who thought we had selected the tree directly behind us--wrote:   

So when we got home, I sent them another picture as proof of our small tree.  And my self-restraint.  I'm patting myself on the back as I type.

Wise guys:

Ha, ha.

They're hilarious.

In any case, I have learned my lesson. I realize now it's possible to have a pretty tree without having a


tree.  I also realize that Advent preparations free of marital discord are highly prized.

It's been peaceful around here, actually...

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some lights to string up outside.

May this year you select the Christmas tree of your dreams!

This years tree.  

See?  Normal.