Growing up, Christmas in my house was no joke. Mom has a Santa collection the Smithsonian would be envious of and she worked harder than Mrs. Claus to make sure my brother and I had an ideal holiday. She busted her tail to wrap our presents just right, baked multiple types of cookies to decorate and filled our stockings with thoughtful trinkets and candy. Mom was probably stressed out doing it all, but Christmas was a fun time in our house.
While I could go on and on about the lengths my mom went to make Christmas “special”, this story is about my Dad. Let’s just say in this case, Dad made Christmas special for other reasons. You see, Dad’s expertise was hunting for the biggest and best g@d damn Christmas tree within the entire Washington DC metro area.
No ordinary tree would ever do. There were serious specifications that had to be met:
- Perfectly round with no “bad spots”
- Good trunk for the stand
- Fraser Fir, always Fraser Fir
- Had to have a nice “Christmas tree smell”. This point was particularly important as my father has the sense of smell of a Bassett hound
- Tall, really tall. So fing tall that doors would need to be removed and light fixtures pulled out in order to get the damn thing standing in our house
I never remember a tree hunt taking less than 3-4 hours. In kid time, that’s about a week. Sometimes, it would take multiple days and visits to numerous nurseries, churches and parking lots around town where only the finest Christmas trees were sold. You would think it would be fun looking for a tree, with the cider and Christmas carols and holiday cheer, but this was no enjoyable Hallmark hunt. This was sitting in the back of our Ford Taurus station wagon listening to Kenny G’s Christmas album without a Gameboy and praying my father would find the holy grail of trees so we could go home and watch Gummy Bears (‘Gummmyyy Bearssss bouncing here and there and everywhere’ – you’re welcome).
One year, after a particularly brutal trip to every tree spot in town, my brother and I heard the magic words, “this is it boys.”
Give me some Gummiberry Juice and let’s bounce outta here.
Not trusting anyone to touch his prized tree, my Dad, all 5’7 of him, diligently put the specimen on top of our goldish brown Taurus. Using bungee cords and rope, half of the tree sloped off of the back of the wagon. Looking like a rocket attached to the space shuttle, my Dad drove off victorious, my brother and I just glad this odyssey was coming to a close. Or, so we thought…
10 minutes later, Dad is cruising down I-270 (a major highway outside of Washington DC) caring not at all about the albatross that is attached to our roof. 55mph is probably a safe speed. Dad’s pushing 70. Remember, this is a man who is one with metal machinery. When my father is at the wheel, the spaghetti sauce in him takes over and he turns into Mario freaking Andretti. Only, Mario would get his ass kicked racing my father in a Ford Taurus with a tree plastered to it.
While Dad was racing in the Daytona 500 listening to Kenny G, that’s when it happened. The tree started sliding off the roof.
My brother goes, “Dad, the tree is coming off the car.”
I go, “Dad, the tree is coming off the car.”
My brother and I look at each other perplexed, not knowing why our pathetic calls to the warrior at the wheel aren’t being heard?
Can Kenny G’s horn really silence our pleas for help? Looking out the window, the tree is now being dragged at 70 miles an hour. Surely, my Dad can feel the change in wind resistance or control of the car? Nope, he keeps driving while enjoying the hypnotic sax of Mr. G hum Oh Silent Night.
My mom, in the passenger seat looks to my dad with a look that says, “don’t you f&cking hear the boys?”
Time to amp up the volume to level 11.
At this point, my brother and I yell, “DAD, THE TREE IS COMING OFF THE CAR!” This got his attention alright.
Nearly swerving off the road, he screams, “WHY THE HELL DIDN’T YOU TELL ME!?!??!?!” With a whole bunch of additional expletives thrown in for good measure, questioning our manhood and self-worth. You would have thought we told him what we really thought about his music.
No, we didn’t get a “thanks boys” or a “way to save Christmas”. No, we got our asses chewed out because he was so damn focused on another man blowing a horn (granted Kenny G is considered a musical genius by most Baby Boomers). If I was man enough then I would have said what I wanted to, “Screw Kenny G”.
Except for some lost needles, the tree wasn’t too badly damaged. With his tail between his legs, Dad put the tree back on our Ford chariot and we headed home. Christmas wasn’t ruined after all.
If you haven’t picked up your tree yet, you might want to listen to your kids when they try to get your attention from the back seat. If you’re like me, you tune them out 98% of the time when they’re telling you crazy ass stories about riding a pony with Katy Perry on the playground at school. The one time they mention something about a tree falling, they might actually know what they’re talking about.
Happy Holidays everyone and I hope you have a wonderful time with family or friends enjoying the festivities. Skip the Kenny G album and rock out to Mannheim Steamroller instead.