Show me the biggest tree you have

Dec. 05, 2012 @ 08:02 AM

As anyone who knows me will attest, this is my favorite time of the entire year. It’s the time for holly, mistletoe, trees, tinsel, and shoppers who will gladly spend a night in the cold to get a good deal on a set of flannel sheets. Christmas is the time of year when you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, and I don’t even have to tell you why, now do I?

   For the past 20 years our family Christmas has begun at a little tree lot owned by an old school buddy of mine. We always go there to pick out a nice white pine for our tree. This tradition replaces the one I knew growing up. The Chandler Family tradition was to go out into the wood and spend half a day looking for that perfect tree. Then, just as the cold causes you to lose all feeling in various appendages, you come home and cut down a tree growing not 40 yards from the front door.

   I like my Christmas trees to be big, round and full. The problem is, the ones I like are always too big, round and full. If I had the same taste in women as I do Christmas trees, I would be married to a young lady I knew in my youth, one we referred to as “Sawmill Sally.” I don’t know why we called her that, her name wasn’t even Sally.

   Years after I lost touch with her I heard she became the prototype model for the Michelin Man. As I understand it, the money from her modeling job enabled her to vacate her position at the mill and focus on her two favorite hobbies; goat rustling and creating replicas of “The Dukes of Hazzard” cast members using dried corncobs.

  But back to the Watts Family Christmas tree. The conversation at Larry’s lot is always the same.

   Me: “That tree over there is perfect.”

   Wife: “It’s too big.”

   Daughter: “Dad, we have 8-feet ceilings, and that tree must be at least 11 feet tall.”

   Me: “No problem. We’ll just find a short, squatty little angel for the top. It’ll work. Just trust ol’ dad.”

   Of course, the trees I pick really are too big for the house. Yet, on two occasions the girls actually let me bring home the tree I wanted. The first time I learned a valuable lesson concerning physics; a tree that is 6 feet in circumference will not go through a doorway that is only 2 feet, 8 inches wide no matter how many bumper jacks or how many yards of baling wire you employ. That was the year the phrase “Homelite Adjustment” found its way into our family vernacular.

   The second time I was given leeway on choosing the tree, I brought home one that would barely fit into our little tree stand. Sometime during its first night, the tree fell. I could just picture its limbs grasping at its trunk as it collapsed into a heap on the floor as if it had suffered some kind of cardiac arrest.

   The next morning before the rooster crowed, my wife and I resurrected and redecorated our tree. We thought it best to complete the repairs to the tree before Amanda, who was about 5 years old at the time, arose. The sight of her beautiful Christmas tree piled up in the floor like a shiny, well-decorated, festive corpse might have been quite a shock to her psyche.

   After all, isn’t having me for a dad traumatic enough for any child?



Benjie Watts of Gamewell is a columnist for the News-Topic. He can be reached by e-mail at