Monday, January 11, 2016

O Tanenbaum, O Tanenbaum

By Obie Oakley

We have a Thanksgiving tradition that is right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
The Friday after Turkey Day, the family piles into our SUV’s and drives about 8 miles to
pick up our Christmas trees.  (OK, well maybe Norman didn’t have SUV’s in his paintings.)

     Mike Dendy, who has done stone and rock work for us for about 25 years has a
small tree farm that he and his “Daddy” grow on a hillside surrounding his double-wide.
Since about the only place he sells his trees is at the flea market down in Franklin, we
always call ahead so he knows we are coming.  We get three trees, one for Heather who
takes theirs back to Charleston, Sara sets hers up in Charlotte and we have ours for here
in Highlands plus assorted wreaths and greenery.  Total cost, $100.

A part of the ritual is to let the boys help in picking out the trees with Mike
leading them around to get that perfect one.  This year, Mike had already cut on for
Frances and me so we just walked around giving others our experienced advice.  Too
skinny, not filled in at the base, not a good top to put the star etc etc.  We then haul them
down to where he has the baler set up and runs them through for the trip(s) home.

It is always a family affair; Mike’s Mamma who does the wreaths, was on hand
but this year, we missed his Daddy.  He had lost his battle with cancer back in the
summer but we could look across to the next hillside and see the little church cemetery
where Mike pointed out they had placed the “purrdiest” white cross marker on his grave.

Fast forward to this weekend when the Oakley’s were going to trim their tree.  As
it turned out, trim was the opperative word!
First of all, we haul all the Christmas stuff down from the attic and can’t find the
stand.  We remembered we had taken it to Charlotte where we had set up our Christmas
for the last two years.  No problemo, just go into Reeves and buy another one just like it.

The tree had been standing in a bucket of water for freshness for those two
weeks in the garage.  I cut the strings off and prepared to carry it across the parking area
to the house.  I say prepared because I couldn’t lift the thing.  It was taller than we
usually get, a little over 8 feet, but the living room can handle that since the ceiling peaks
at about 13 feet.  It also had the perfect shape and was totally filled in.  No holes in this
one which contributed to make it a very heavy tree.  Again, no problemo, Frances and I
managed to get it in to the living room and began putting it on the stand.

As we always do, I was going to lift it and Frances was going to put the stand in
place and tighten the adjusting screws to hold it vertical.  For some reason, this proved
to be very difficult and the more we worked at it the harder it became until finally, after
using every expletive in her vocabulary, she suggested we take it up on the hill and toss
it on our “burn pile”.  With cooler heads prevailing, we gave up on trying to get it in
place, and decided the thing to do was to make it lighter by cutting off some of the
bottom. “ Trimming the tree so to speak”.  Once again, no problemo, I got my chain saw
down and trimmed the tree.  (When’s the last time you used your chain saw in your
living room?)

We are now ready to put the thing in the newly purchased stand only this time it

was a problemo, in wrestling with trying to get it in place, we had bent one of the legs of
the stand.  Putting it in my vice, the leg now conformed to the other three and voila,
We now have the “purrdiest” 6 ½ foot Christmas tree in all of Highlands, NC!

The Oakley Tree