Christmas Tree Hunt©

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Christmas Tree Hunt©
by Dale Lee

Participating in a Christmas tree hunt is a special way to celebrate Christmas. I do not mean going to a parking lot with parking spaces reserved for Christmas trees to select a Christmas tree. I am talking about tramping through fields and up and down hills with an axe looking for the perfect shaped Christmas Tree.

Where I lived in Kentucky and Tennessee as a child and teenager, the hunted Christmas tree was an Evergreen tree. Sometimes you were fortunate to be able to scout out the fields a few weeks ahead to find that perfect Christmas Tree. Most of the time, we did not know where we would find a tree which added excitement and frustration to the hunt.

Getting dressed for the hunt meant you dressed in layers of clothes. The temperature high for the day could range from the 30s to the 60s. Walking for a couple of miles up and down hills meant your body would warm up and you would take off a layer of clothes. You did not throw away the clothes. The temperature might change, and you would need to put on the layer of clothes that had been removed.

If snow was on the ground, it added a challenge to the hunt. You could expect to slip and slide on the snow. If you had a little luck, you would not fall down. Not falling reduces the excitement of getting snow, mud, and water from melted snow on your clothes.

To go on a Christmas tree hunt, the owner of the farm was approached to get permission to go on the property. Typically the offer is made to the owner to cut a tree for him and take the tree to his house. This offer is done as a manner of courtesy and respect. If the land owner was a senior adult, getting a fresh-cut Christmas Tree was very appreciated.

Some of the highlights of a Christmas Tree hunt are having stick tights sticking to your jean’s pant’s legs, walking through biers as they decorate your skin by scratching your skin through your jeans, having the “be jabbers” scared out of you when a covey of quail flies up from around your feet, and the bull you surprised was friendly and wanted to play. There are other exciting adventures I could share, but I do not like remembering what happened when I patted the head of the little black and white kitten that turned out to not be a cat.

A Christmas Tree hunt is a physical workout. Walking up and down hills and across gullies gives your heart a workout. You may break into a trot when you see on the next hill a perfect shaped Christmas Tree. The heart speeds up from the trotting and the excitement of getting to the perfect shaped tree. You take a deep grasp of air when you see the other side of the tree. It has a big branch that has died. The brown branch is not in your image of a perfect Christmas tree.

After seeing at a distance several trees that look like a perfect shaped tree, you are starting to wish you had gone to the lighted Christmas tree parking spaces. You think you see another perfect shaped tree. You walk over to it, and it does look perfect. It even has the hidden surprise of a bird nest. A perfect shaped bird nest can be used to hold a little Christmas gift. This perfect tree helps you forget you have mud on both boots.

You find two perfect shaped trees. You take both trees to the land owner. You let him pick the one he likes. If you think the owner would take the tree with the bird nest, you can plan ahead by taking a bird nest out of a bad looking tree. Taking the nest out of a tree may cause you to destroy it if the nest is built around a good size branch. You do not know what will happen to the nest until you attempt to remove it.

As you take the trees to your truck or the land owner’s house, you make sure you do not drag the trees through mud. You are feeling happy. You have the perfect tree with a bird nest. After trimming off the lower tree limbs so the tree trunk will fit in the tree stand, you are happy that even with the loss of the limbs the tree looks great. The tree is put into the truck bed and tied down so it will not bounce up and down while traveling home.

The smell of a fresh cedar or pine tree brings the smell of Christmas to a home. Having grown up in farming communities, the fresh tree fragrance mentally takes me back to my younger years. Taking the tree out of the car trunk and preparing it to go into the tree stand is a tricky effort. The tips of pine needles can be sharp and the sap from bruised pine needles or evergreen branches is sticky.

Gloves are worn to protect the skin. It is a good feeling to have the tree sitting in front of the livingroom’s picture window. The bird nest is nice to look at and imagine little birds chirping in the nest even though it is now filled with a little Christmas gift.

Dressing (decorating) the tree with the lights, balls, icicles, and a star or angel on top of the tree is the end of the activities of the Christmas tree hunt. It is a challenge to balance the colored light bulbs and the colored balls with the icicles. Finding a light bulb that is burned out in a series wired string of Christmas lights was not fun. You can tell if a string of lights is wired in a series by the fact that when one light bulb burns out, none of the lights will burn. Each bulb has to be replaced with a good bulb until the bad bulb is found.

It is very relaxing to sit in a room with the smell of the tree floating through the room and the only light is provided by the lights on the tree. Sitting in this environment while remembering past Christmas activities with relatives from your past can bring a happy tear to your eye.

Merry Christmas to you and your Christmas memories.

Date last changed: 12-29-2007

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