random brain dribbles of a nurse, novelist, and ninja enthusiast

Christmas Trees and Crazy Old Man Strength

We recently purchased a Christmas tree and the whole process gave me an increased respect for the available upper body strength of your average eighty year old man, our Chrysler Sebring, and my ability to drive entirely blind. It all started at a Christmas tree farm several blocks down the street from us which is perfect when you are both lazy and gas or energy conscious (mostly just lazy).

There were plenty of trees to choose from and we instantly gravitated toward the largest one on the lot. We had been living in an apartment and finally have both a giant house and nine foot ceilings which means we can get a tree that is at least ten feet tall. We settled on a good nine footer, because there were no ten foot trees and upon further investigation, sawing the damn thing was going to be problematic.

The saws at the front were the rusted relics of every horror movie you have ever imagined and were covered in a patina of rusty blood stains and tetanus. Just handling it made me want to get vaccinated. The tree was no Douglas Fir and I should have been suspicious when the cost of our nine foot plus tree was actually fifteen dollars less than most of the trees half its size, but we’ll get to that later.

tetanus saw

After slicing the tree in half we dragged its wooden carcass back to the front where we contemplated how to strap it to the roof of our Sebring. I couldn’t lift the thing by myself and was left with two available options: the eighty year old man who owned the farm or my pregnant wife. I chose age before beauty.

I felt confident in this decision. Years of evolution and self preservation have taught us that older generations must make way and concede to the younger generations and the elderly man had steely eyes encased within a frame of equal parts Burgess Meredith from the Rocky movies and the Gordon Fisherman. This incredible combination of traits imbued him with crazy old man strength, an aptitude for motivation through intimidation, and the ability to tie incredible fisherman’s knots. All these are great characteristics to have when you want to find someone to strap your very oversized tree to your very undersized car. Besides, his property his problems and I knew he would do it, because he was both extremely nice and somewhat psychotic.


For those of you who think my psychological judgements of the man were far too presumptuous consider these dog sized feral cats he has casually roaming around his property.

crazy old man strength: incredible strength harvested from years of blue collared conditioning heavily encoded in geriatric DNA.

Steely Eyes: cliched phrase to describe the stereotypically tough guyed stare of the star of every western movie you have ever seen.

Once strapped to the roof, the tree engulfed our Sebring. Considering its size relative to the tiny golden chariot soon to unsafely whisk us both back to our home, I felt a strong sense of unease. The old man pointed to some twine and scissors which were unnecessarily secured to the side of the building next to dozens of other items far more expensive than cheap five dollar scissors. This is the sort of fiscal insanity inspired by both depression era parents and McCarthy era mistrust. I awkwardly cut away at the twine using the scissors attached to the wall with that very same twine. Clearly, his security system was severely flawed.

scissor security

With twine in hand we secured the tree to the car and I watched as the old man fastened the thing using the ancient Chinese secrets of tree weaving and advanced knot tying passed down through generations of tree farmers before him. I watched him carefully and attempted to duplicate his knots with less than successful results on the other side. One end was secured with a taut piece of twine pressing lines deep into the bark of the tree while the other piece I secured, drooped down to the floor in disappointing flaccidity. The fact our tree remained on the roof of the car half secured all the way to the house despite the sheer incline of the road leading into it is testament to the old man’s skills with twine.


Ridiculously oversized tree side view

 Christmas car side view

Could you imagine how this would look to anyone driving behind us?

Fact: All secrets are both ancient and Chinese. Just ask Calgon.

The tree was much thicker and wider than we expected and I spent the next fifteen minutes cheerfully chopping away at branches with my machete.

Christmas machete

Once inside, the now mutilated, but well fitting six foot tree (oops) was dragged several more yards down the entrance and into our living room where a heavy sheen of bugs leaped off its branches and across every hard to reach nook and cranny of our house. It is both this infestation and the trees ultimate disappointing downsizing leading us to the realization that farmer Fred will always be beaten by Fred Meyer’s and nature will always be beaten by neoprene.

Neoprene: Synthetic bug free polymerized rubber many fake Christmas trees are composed of. Note: there are a lot of unpronounceable cancer causing chemicals used in its formation, so you know its extra sciency and therefore of excellent quality.

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