Whenever I cut a live Christmas tree, I remember an escapade from over 30 years ago when I was in the service. We were all away from home and feeling a bit bummed-out. Spray can snow and Christmas lights taped-up around the barracks windows just weren’t making it the “most wonderful time of the year”. Bah-humbug was beginning to take hold. My friend Mark & I were sitting in our room listening to music when there was a knock on the door. A couple of the gals from upstairs wanted to know if we would get our guitars and play some carols to cheer them up and get them in the Christmas spirit.
Pat was missing her family’s Christmas traditions. She told us about how she and her dad used to trudge through the woods, cut down the perfect tree and then pull the tree on a sled through the snow back to the house. Dianne was a city kid like the rest of us and recalled how fun it was when tree lots turned parking lots into mini forests in the middle of the city. We always chose a tree that was so big it would almost cover our little car when we tied it to the roof! We all thought having a Christmas tree would improve our moods, but the four of us didn’t have enough money to put together for a tree lot tree. Just then, Mark and I looked at each other and the “light bulb” came on.
We jumped in my old pick-up truck and headed for the woods. It didn’t take long to find some nice trees that were close to the roadside. We cut a third tree to put in the OPCEN, but I took a corner a little too fast on the way back and the extra tree flew out of the back of the truck, rolled all the way up a driveway and bumped hard against the front door of a house; I smiled and felt like Santa Clause for just a moment – “Merry Christmas random tree recipients!” Back at the base, we left our tree in the truck and dragged the biggest tree upstairs and into Pat and Dianne’s room. After a little trimming and adjusting, their tree looked beautiful in its stand. We left the girls to their decorating and went back downstairs to make space in our room for our tree.
I don’t think 5 minutes had passed when we heard blood curdling screaming coming from upstairs! Mark and I nearly fell over each other as we raced from our room and up the stairs. The commotion was coming from Pat & Dianne’s room. We burst through the door to find them holding onto each other while screaming and jumping up and down on a bed. We quickly located the source of their terror. There were dozens of spiders descending from the pine and crawling on the carpet in every direction! Mark stomped spiders while I took the tree onto the balcony and threw it over the rail. After spraying for spiders and then hosing the insecticide off, the trees were finally free of their Halloween ornaments. To this day, every time I hear the song “O Christmas Tree” I can’t help but think about the time I unintentionally delivered a “pre-decorated” Christmas tree that brought a whole lot more than just “joy and glee”. We had our own nightmare before Christmas 10 years before Tim Burton’s movie premiered!
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