A Christmas ‘slaying’ tradition

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.

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