Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

It’s a pleasant, wet and rainy day, and I am standing in a semicircle of approximately 133 “you cut ’em” Christmas trees.

My husband is running with a sawblade in his left hand, a blue tarp in his right hand, and a translucent look in his eyes.  Evidently, he has spotted yet another tree that might meet his specific conditions.

My 7-year old daughter is lying on the ground at my feet, moaning deliriously that she is “tree sick.”  Her tiny limp body is lying quietly as she explains that after rows and rows of trees she can no long muster the energy to walk another step.

I don’t know about you, but when I go to ‘cut’em” I don’t waste a lot of time. I stride briskly to the most attractive tree standing and shout, “Here!”

Your professional Christmas tree cutter (husband), on the other hand, does not even think about cutting until he has conducted a complete tree study of the site-circling the selected tree warily, as though it were an alien space-ship, checking it out from every possible angle, squatting and squinting, finger in the air checking the wind, feeling the needles, analyzing the distance from the road to the truck, back to the tree…

And so, amid an atmosphere of unbearable tension, comparable to not being able to find your car keys when you are already late to that very important meeting, my daughter and I wait, and wait, and wait.

By now our daughter is trying to make snow angels in the mud and I am unbelievably letting her.  I see other families in the tree farm.  They’re staring intently at trees way off in the distance, but I think they’re staring at us.  We have been here so long.

I think about grabbing my daughter’s hand and pulling her up to her feet and taking her down the hill for our third cup of hot cider and her second candy cane, but too late, she has been entertaining the crowds by holding her breath as she runs up and down the tree rows.

The more time that passed with virtually nothing happening, the more excited I got about that cider.  I started down the hill when suddenly I heard a loud, long, whopping yelp that I recognized as my husband.

I turned to see him stand up, wipe tree pitch off his hands, and in a voice that would have made a gold digger stop, announced, “This …is the tree.”

There it stood in all of its glory-all 14 feet of it.

“That’s too big,” I said.

“Not so,” he said. “I will trim off the bottom.  You’ll see.”

“Don’t you remember last year?” I asked.  “It was too big, you did not trim enough.”

“Did so.”

“Did not.”

“Did so.

“Did not.”



Like anything else, success depends on the proper tools, so in the back of our truck is an assortment of many saws, blue tarps, gloves, rope and any necessity to fall Paul Bunyan’s tree.

“Quick, run back to the truck and pick out the yellowed handled two blade milliliter saw.  Oh, and by the way, grab me a cider,” he says with a big smile.

Rolling my eyes back in my head and shrugging my shoulders, I approached the tree surgeon punched him in the arm where he pretended to be knocked into the fir tree, and I headed to the car trying to consider the many, many complex factors involved in the “you cut ’em tree man.

This is, after all, a once a year experience.  And this tree-prepare to experience a heart tremor- was home cut.  How were we going to get it in the truck, let alone through the front door?  At least when I finally do get home I can make a nice hot cup of:


6 cups apple cider, 1 cinnamon stick, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon rind, 1 can (2-1/2 cups) unsweetened pineapple juice.

Heat cider and cinnamon stick in a large pan.  Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered 5 minutes longer.


1 egg, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 cup chilled milk, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.  Beat egg and sugar together.  Beat in milk and vanilla.  Serve cold in a tall glass sprinkled lightly with nutmeg.  Serve immediately

Note:  This column was published in Sandra Haldeman Martz of Papier-Mache Press, anthology “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays”.  Where I was welcomed by two different Barnes & Noble bookstores that held a booksigning and reading.