To Tree or Not to Tree, That is the Question . . .

As a small boy growing up in the federal housing projects in Brooklyn, one of the things our family looked forward to most was the annual purchase of a Christmas tree.  Our dad was a master at waiting until the very last minute on Christmas Eve to make “the buy.”  Then, with the skill of a gypsy, he would wheel and deal until he got the very best price on a six-foot tall tree with only one bare spot on it, which, of course would always be positioned to the rear, facing the corner.  If you couldn’t see it, it didn’t exist. That was Dad’s motto.

As a married man, I picked up the gauntlet and followed in the footsteps of my father, forever in search of the “impossible dream” of more tree for less money.  Granted, I no longer waited until the final day before Christmas to buy the tree, especially after my two children were born.  However, it was not uncommon for us to travel to half a dozen nearby towns, searching for The Tree.  Through it all, there was one constant: It had to be a real tree.  No ersatz Christmas bush would do.  No sir!  If there wasn’t any sap in the trunk of our car, we hadn’t gotten our tree yet.

xmas-treeIt might be a stretch to say that it was my Christmas tree obsession that led to the demise of my first marriage, but it surely was a contributing factor.  Did I learn my lesson? Noooooo!  After my divorce and subsequent remarriage, the same pattern was repeated, only now there was a new supporting cast of “enablers.” However, the price of gasoline was becoming an impediment to my obsession.  No longer could I drag my new wife and her two children to town after town, burning up gallon upon gallon of cheap fuel.  It just wasn’t financially feasible.  So, slowly but surely, we began to relax the standards.  First, our height requirement dropped: from right up to the ceiling to just above the window.  Then, the permissable number of bare spots increased from one to as many as three— as long as they were hidden in the rear.

Fast forward to 1999. We were now without children at home, and on our inaugural Christmas in North Carolina, we did the unthinkable. Yes, friends and neighbors, we purchased (I shudder to say the words) our first artificial Christmas tree.  After years and years of fighting the good fight, we had finally succumbed to the pressure of conformity. After all, everyone else had one, so why shouldn’t we?  To be fair, it was a big fellow, about nine feet tall, and it dominated our living room—for four Christmases.  Then, we moved to a smaller house with lower ceilings, and we ditched the artificial tree in favor of a real one—at least for a couple of years.  But with fewer and fewer guests showing up to see it, we again returned to the world of artificiality.  Then, last year, we went without a tree completely.

So, where does that leave us?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Or can you guess?  Hint: It involves the Internet.  Yep, this year we bought our tree online.  And it wasn’t that easy, either.  Most of the cheapos were sold out already when I began my search, but not to worry.  We have a high speed Internet connection.  So, after surfing the Net for what seemed like an eternity, I finally found a nice little five-footer at Lowes—and I didn’t have to take a mortgage on my house to buy it. I still haven’t seen it in the flesh yet, however, because I wasn’t the one who went to pick it up.  I left that little task in the capable hands of my wife.  Big mistake.

She had been gone less than a half hour when my cell phone rang.  “If you think I’m buying that ‘twig,’ you’re crazy,” she said (or words to that effect).  Nuts! Now what?  “Okay, then,” I said, “get whichever one you like.”  So she got a bigger—and, no doubt, better—one, and brought it home. It presently resides within its box in our basement, where it menaces me and dares me to “Go ahead, put me up!”  And I will, too—when I’m good and ready.  After all, there’s no rush.  It’s already got lights on it, and we’ve agreed not to overload it with ornaments (just the special ones). Heck, Christmas is more than a week away and there’s plenty of time for me to erect the little beauty.  Maybe I’ll even wait until Christmas Eve. Dad would be proud.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

NOTE: There will be no blog post for the next two weeks, because my family and I will be enjoying the holiday to the max.  I can’t wait to spend Christmas with our family, and especially with our wonderful two-year-old granddaughter.  So, from our family to yours, Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year!   See you in 2017.


About AuthorJoePerroneJr

I am a former professional fly-fishing guide, and I write the Matt Davis Mystery Series, which presently consists of five books: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, Broken Promises and Deadly Ransom. The series is set in the real town of Roscoe, NY, in the Catskill Mountains, where I guided for ten years. I love fly fishing, movies, cooking (and eating), and music. To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website at:
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22 Responses to To Tree or Not to Tree, That is the Question . . .

  1. Mary says:

    Hoping you had a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. balroop2013 says:

    Wishing you and all your dear ones a Merry Christmas Joe and Becky. Enjoy your holidays and usher in New Year with smiles 🙂 🙂 Stay blessed!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jane says:

    Beautifully written Joe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Allie P. says:

    I couldn’t help hearing the narrator from a Christmas Story in my head as I read this.

    We have a lovely pre-lit artificial tree which has more than returned on our investment in time saved for setup. We hang these great pine scented sticks in its boughs and poof it’s like a real tree, but less likely to cover the floor in needles.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours and here’s hoping you have a wonderful 2017.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Allie. And thanks also for the idea to use the pine scented whatchamacallems. I’ll have to see if I can find them. Merry Christmas to you and your family also. And best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved your Christmas tree story, Joe! Get that tree up and have a Very Merry Christmas! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Cathy says:

    What a great story, Joe. I enjoyed every word of it as it took me right back to Oradell, NJ and my life before I graduated from RDHS and went into the US NAVY WAVES. My dad did the very same thing as your dad. Now I have a 4 foot fake that already has lights and I only put on the most special of what surely used to be nearly 100 ornaments. Thank you for the great memories Joe, have a very wonderful Christmas & a Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Cathy. I’ll bet neither of our families ever bought a tree at Klober’s. Do you remember Charlie Klober? He owned the Delford Market on Oradell Avenue. Even back then, he had trees that sold for more than twenty dollars apiece. I actually drove their delivery truck for a short while – until I was fired for running over a customer’s kid’s bicycle. Those were the days! 🙂


  7. Great story, Joe! You may be old enough to recall the crazy excuses for Christmas trees they came up with back in the 50s. They were white, spindly (Charlie Brownish) and came with a light that had a rotating rainbow of colored film triangles on it — Red. Green. Blue. Yellow. The branches weren’t strong enough to hold our string of “bubble lights” that I loved to see every year. That tree didn’t last long. Merry Christmas to you my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Michael. Who could forget those bubble lights. Man, oh man, what I wouldn’t do to get my hands on a set of those. And the Lionel electric trains that everyone had in the ’50s and ’60s. Great memories. 🙂


  8. Nice article, Joe. We’ve also succumbed to an artificial tree. Went from a 7-footer all the way down to one of those “small, but oh-so-cute” 4-foot jobs. Thinking ahead to some day when we’ll probably end up in an assisted living palace, I wonder if they’ll allow even 4-foot trees. Perhaps a wreath on the door??? Stay Merry, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dick Fuller says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Looking forward to your 2017 posts.

    Liked by 1 person

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