The Post-Outlaw Life

Christmas Tree Karma

Not all that long ago, I wrote about my very short life of acquiring Christmas trees via nefarious means.  Fortunately it did not lead to me living the life of a desperado.  I believe that there is the existence of a thing called Karma.  In the years since I was “scared straight”, Karma has ironically made its presence known when my family in I went in search of live trees to decorate for Christmas.  Let me assure everyone, these trees were obtained through the exchange of legal tender, we were not about to become a crime family.   Christmas Tree Karma struck a total of four times over 12 years.  Those four Karmic events were quite remarkable.

The first Karma Tree was one that was actually “selected” by my father-in-law” from a tree farm in Vermont.  I believe the search process took all of 5 seconds after he arrived at the farm.  Park – hey, there’s a tree – cut – leave.  It was difficult to be grateful for his efforts, the tree was one step above the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.  The tree had obviously received sunlight on only one side as the branches were really long and thick on one side, and sparse on the other – it was a great “corner tree”.   On the verge of allowing the tree to spend its final days in a familiar setting – the woods behind our house – rescue came during a visit from my Grandmother and Uncle.  Peering at the tree with a critical eye, they laid into the tree with garden shears and a saw.  The resulting product was worthy of entry into “Extreme Makeover, Christmas Tree Edition”, had such a series existed.  The anemic side was still anemic, but pushed into the corner was barely noticeable after being decorated.

Karma Tree 2 was obtained after we moved to the NW hills of Connecticut.  There was a tree farm very close to our house and we determined that would be a good place to seek and cut a tree.  The week prior to us getting the tree was a stormy one.  Snow, followed by freezing rain, followed by snow rendered the tree farm a winter wonderland.  It was even snowing lightly the day we went to get our tree.  Like the Donner Party we trudged through snow that was knee deep and crusty.  We had to dig the snow in order to expose enough of the base to cut it down.  Trudging back through the snow, we secured the tree to our car and drove home.  However I neglected to pay attention to how much snow and ice covered the tree.  We decided that we would put the tree in our first floor bathroom until it thawed.  And it had to thaw a lot!  As flood waters burst from under the bathroom door and followed the course of the hallway to encroach upon our kitchen and living room, my wife and I scrambled to construct a dike of Beach and bath towels to staunch the flow.  

Karma Tree 3 was a surprise.  Going to another tree farm near our house with my youngest son, Jeremy, to cut another live tree began began well.  It was a cool, sunny day with no snow on the ground or in the forecast.  Arriving at the farm we were given a saw as well as a cart to bring the cut tree to a station where it would be bound in mesh.  The associates at the tree farm would even tie it or load it to your car or truck.  Good deal!  Jeremy and I discovered a beautiful blue spruce in a line of trees about midway up the hill in the farm.  I would have to crawl under the tree to cut it.  My plan was to cut most of the way through the tree trunk, then crawl out and push it over the rest of the way.  As I began to cut, I called from under the tree and asked Jeremy to just grab a couple of branches and hold firmly if the tree started to shift.  Jeremy replied in the affirmative so I resumed cutting.  About 2/3 of the way through, the tree toppled over on me, one or two of the needles poked my left eye.  Crawling out from under the tree, I spotted Jeremy grasping the tree next to the one we had selected.  Much surprised, Jeremy exclaimed “What are you doing under that tree Dad!?”.  We got the tree home without further mishap, but my eye was quite irritated from being spiked.  The next day, my game eye and I went on a business trip.  For the next few days, I would make everyone I met feel uncomfortable because I appeared to weeping at everything discussed.  I had to repeatedly clarify as to the cause of my runny eye.  That still did not improve their discomfort, because their eyes would twitch as though they could sense my ocular distress.

Karma Tree 4 would be the last live tree we purchased.  This tree was a pre-cut one we obtained during our first Christmas in Michigan.  We spotted it right away on the tree lot and our sons ran to claim it.  We were looking for a tall tree because we had a large open, 2 story great room.  The tree was immense!  Too big to fit on or in our car.  The manager of the tree lot said “That’s a big tree young fella, you better use my truck to get it home”.  That solved one logistical issue, but the next issue would manifest itself in the difficulty getting the tree through the front door.  Accomplishing that, through great effort, the ribbon on this package was yet to come.  The tree proved to be too tall and wide for the tree stand that we had.  My confidence that the tree was secured was dashed when it toppled over, gouging a wall, and knocking over and breaking a step ladder.  I was on the ladder.  Uninjured, except for my pride, I secured the tree using a couple of strategically place fasteners.  Decorated, the tree was glorious.

For the past 23 years our trees have been artificial ones.  As my wife and I began to prepare for Christmas 2020, we discussed getting a live tree.  We decided, “nah, Maybe next year”.

Ernie Stricsek

Chatham Writers Group

January 3, 2021

10 thoughts on “The Post-Outlaw Life

  1. Hi Ernie, Very entertaining piece. I laughed out loud at Karma Tree 3 picturing Jeremy’s surprise at holding the wrong tree. 😂 Nancy

    On Sun, Jan 3, 2021 at 11:05 PM The Chatham Packet wrote:

    > estricsek posted: ” Christmas Tree Karma Not all that long ago, I wrote > about my very short life of acquiring Christmas trees via nefarious > means. Fortunately it did not lead to me living the life of a > desperado. I believe that there is the existenc” >

    Liked by 1 person

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