As a child I recall piling into our station wagon (the family truckster Ford Taurus) the day after Thanksgiving to drive an hour or more from our home to a Christmas tree farm in the middle of rural Ohio. With our bellies full of Thanksgiving leftovers acting as a fuel for the Christmas season, we would venture South past the Alpaca farms, through Lodi and Wooster, eventually reaching our our ultimate destination of Pine Tree Barn.
Shockingly, we apparently weren't unique in our quest for the perfect family tree conquest, as the first 20 minutes were usually spent fighting for parking in the overcrowded lots. If a spot would open, it would usually be stolen by a parking vulture who had been waiting a fraction as long as we had, after which a few choice Merry Christmas pleasantries would undoubtedly be exchanged.
Once parked and unloaded, the real tradition would begin. What would start as a simple walk to discover the perfect tree would quickly devolve into endless wandering through the rows of picked over trees that adorned the Ohio landscape. Though most good trees in the seven to eight foot range had already been thoroughly picked over by the early riser families, or the really smart cookies that came out the day before Thanksgiving to select their tree, we held out hope for that perfect tree that had somehow eluded detection by the lesser tree selecting families in anticipation of our visit and discerning eye.
This nomadic journey happened every year, rain, snow, sleet, frigid temperatures, it didn't matter, we were getting that tree. The annual Christmas tree selection was a day long event and was not for the faint of heart. If you think really hard, you may be able to imagine me as a young teenager undoubtedly praising my parents with words of encouragement on finding the perfect tree. I definitely didn't act annoyed, nor present an attitude of adolescent angst by haphazardly pointing out almost every tree we passed in the hope its very apparent deficiencies could pass by my expert tree selecting parents' eye completely unnoticed. Unfortunately, most were quickly disqualified from contention due to the fact it had a bald spot, or were too short, too tall, too crooked, or any number of fatal flaws resulting in its rather rapid vote off of the proverbial Christmas island.
When we finally found the tree of our choosing (usually at least two to three feet too tall for the room), the sap filled adventure would continue. If we were lucky and had remembered the saw this particular year, we would hop to it working like little bevers to fell our tree. Once on the ground we could marvel at our skills in tree cutting that we honed religiously on this day each year, then hoist it onto our broad and masculine shoulders to make the mile walk back to the farm's barn to warm up. While defrosting our toes and unsticking the various branches and needles from our jackets and gloves, we woukd question why we do this every year and vow to reign in the tradition the next year. Sadly, 364 days later, that conversation was always forgotten as we would prepare for our annual trek to the Wooster, Ohio area for our family Christmas tree.
I'm not sure if you can tell from my story, but I love National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. However, I love it in a disconnected youth longing for the return of my childhood sort of way. I can identify with Rusty, I can feel his pain.
Be sure to check out our current day Christmas tree traditions. Let's just say that it is significantly different than this scene.