A Christmas 'slaying' tradition

Sep 28, 2007 at 9:29 p.m. ET

When I was a little girl, every Friday after Thanksgiving my father would take my sisters and me out into the woods to hunt for a Christmas tree. We LOVED this tradition. My sisters and I would bundle up and sometimes we'd bring hot cocoa and something to snack on. All day long we'd hunt with our father trekking up one hill and down another, from tree farm to tree farm until at last we found Alfie.

Alfie was the name of a Christmas tree in a John Denver and The Muppets Christmas song. We liked that song so much we'd trudge through the knee-high dew laden grass calling out: "Alfie! Alfie!"

My father took this all in stride. It didn't bother him that his three girls marched behind him waving long Pampas grass flowers shouting for a tree that would never answer.

At long last we'd see Alfie just waiting there for us to take him home. And every year it was the same. A tree had to meet certain requirements to be our Alfie. Number one, it had to be at least twenty feet tall. Maybe it was only twelve feet, we were so small, but it definitely had to tower over our dad.

Next, it had to be pine -- a big lush pine tree that had not been coifed and manicured to look like a giant green Hershey's Kiss. The more angles it had and the bushier it was, the better. It didn't even have to have a single trunk as long as it all ended at a point at the top and had some sort of base we could plop in a stand.

And so it went every year. We'd pay for the tree and didn't even bother to have it wrapped in net. There wasn't any net available for an XXL tree like our Alfie. No, our tree would be the talk of every car that passed us on the long drive home. "Hey, did you see that? A tree with wheels." Somewhere beneath all that pine was a small blue station wagon, with a man peering over the steering wheel through the blowing needles and three kids in the back seat with the biggest grins on their faces.

We couldn't even get out of the car, until my dad finished untying the tree. There was enough rope crisscrossing through the car to hang us, but we were never harmed and we never lost a tree.

My dad never got a moment's peace when we got the tree home. We wanted to see it in the stand right away which meant that for two hours my father would be lost somewhere beneath a Monterey Pine giving us an earful of colorful language as the tree swayed and he drilled and sawed and finally, with some fishing line stabilizing the tree from the top to two points on the ceiling it stayed put. Then we'd cheer: "Now put on the lights!"

We never did put a star on the top of our tree. We couldn't because the top bent over like the crook of a candy cane. Imperfect? Never! This was Alfie, our beloved Christmas tree.