As a kid, I looked forward to ‘tree shopping’ on Friday

Published 7:49 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2012

There’s no doubt that columnists across the nation are going to write columns this week about the things they are thankful for. I certainly could fill up pages of the blessings in my life, including a wonderful family, the opportunity to attend great schools, and a job that I love.

However, I’m going to switch things up a little bit and instead write about the day after Thanksgiving. When I was a kid, I arguably looked forward more to the Friday after Thanksgiving, than to the Turkey Day itself. Sure, it was nice to fill up on turkey and stuffing, but I always thought that the real fun came the next day, when we would all get in the car and go shopping — Christmas tree shopping, that is.

In my family, it was always the tradition to get the Christmas tree on Black Friday. Without fail, it was always chilly that day, so we’d have to bundle up in thick jackets, stocking caps and mittens, to where we could barely move around and ended up looking like Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

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While living in Alabama, we always shopped at the same Christmas tree farm, which was about 10 miles out in the country from our house. While my parents searched for the perfect tree, my brother, sister and I would rush throughout the mazes of pines and firs, in a tradition that we simply called “getting lost.” Of course, it was easy enough to find each other again by just yelling out and following the voices. No matter how mixed up we got in the labyrinth of trees, we’d always find our way back to the minivan safe and sound.

Once Dad found the perfect tree, he’d then use the hacksaw to cut it down and we’d all yell “timber!” Of course, no truthful accounting of this family tradition would be complete without the anecdote about how I once screamed bloody murder when Dad asked me to hold the hacksaw. Apparently I was afraid that just touching the thing would transform me into the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I’d like to deny that it ever happened, but my dad got it on videotape (curse you, VHS camcorder!).

Another great memory was when my parents would allow us kids to buy a small sapling that we could take upstairs and decorate ourselves. We affectionately called these “Charlie Brown trees,” after the infamous scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Then, it would be time to head home and bring the tree in, putting it up in the stand and then taking the time to meticulously decorate it, while playing Christmas carols over our cassette tape player.

You know, it’s funny. I tried to make a point about not writing about Thanksgiving, and yet in some ways, I have. What am I most thankful for? Isn’t it obvious? I’m thankful for my family, and the wonderful memories that I have been lucky to share with them. Hopefully, there will be many more to come.