Letter to the editor: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

If you do anything before putting up your Christmas tree you are making a huge mistake. For example, if you buy your presents first, what do you do with them? Do you keep them in the trunk of your car? Smuggle them into the house and wait for a tree? Get your tree first and everything will fall into place. 

The tree. Here’s the thing. There are many, many aspects to consider before obtaining a suitable tree. Much of the time purchasing a tree (if that’s what you prefer) is a family affair, and as your family grows the negotiations process can be very convoluted. There are many questions to consider: When do we want it (and set it up)? Do we buy it at the Nutcracker Tree Farm in Middlebury again or try Werner’s Tree Farm? There are so many choices, but time may be running out. 

Once the point of purchase has been selected, who is going to the tree farm? Some tree farms offer sleigh rides, sugar on snow, a real treat for the whole family. Might as well clear the calendar for the day and if it’s snowing, well, that’s a bonus!

For some, it’s matter of cost. What can you afford? My first Christmas tree as a newlywed was purchased at a gas station on Dec. 24, at closing time. We knew if we waited long enough and luck was on our side, we could buy it at a very reduced price, and we were right. We dragged it across the street to our apartment, set it up with a single string of lights and…cheers! I know that money matters. 

But getting a Christmas tree is always an adventure, whether it’s the family affair at a tree farm or buying from some organization like the Boy Scouts or from some “independent” guy on the corner. No matter where you end up getting your tree, the holiday spirit is in the air.

Obtaining a Christmas tree is no light and trifling matter. Things to consider are: What kind of tree do we want, where do we get it and how much are we willing to spend? Other considerations include: Transporting the tree or simply choose, buy and leave? Do we want the family experience or just go with a friend, or go it alone? I am sure you can complicate this matter with your own ideas.

The only other alternative to getting your own tree that I can think of is to spend absolutely no money on a tree. This was always my dad’s choice. I think because I was the baby of the family, he would always lead me off on some “adventure.” Today I believe he was pranking me. 

When I was about 8 years old, my dad explained to me that we should go together to get this year’s tree. He said mom was OK with the idea and would have supper ready when we returned; I could smell the rabbit pot pie already.

It was a snowy day as we climbed into the Buick and drove to East Road. I was familiar with the area because my parents always drove out there to do sightseeing (I knew they were really scouting out deer for an upcoming season). It was about a 15-minute ride to the spot my dad had already scouted for Christmas trees.

He pulled the Buick to a smooth stop at the side of the drifted road. Opening the trunk, he reached in and pulled out a small hatchet and said, “Here Tommy, you carry this.” I remember feeling that a great honor had been bestowed upon me. Then he lifted his shotgun from the trunk and tucked it under his arm and I was amazed at the sight of the gun and surprised. But who knows what wild animals we might encounter?  

We trudged through the soft snow when I became aware of a hand resting lightly but firmly on my shoulder. I looked up at my dad and knew to stop and be quiet. He raised his shotgun, and my eyes quickly surveyed the area. No big bear. No mountain lion. Then the explosion from the shotgun nearly knocked me to the ground. “Hand me the hatchet and I will trim the trunk.”

I couldn’t believe it. My dad had shot down a Christmas tree. We dragged it back to the car, tied it to the roof and drove home. Greeted by my mom I could hardly wait for the promised rabbit pot pie. She could hardly wait to hear of my Christmas tree adventure, but I couldn’t tell her right away as my ears were still ringing!

My advice — spend the money and buy your tree.

Tom Pinsonneault


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