No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree (A Practical Joke)
We went to the Christmas tree farm today to cut down a tree. This is the second year in a row we have participated in this Christmas tradition. Chris and I had cut a tree a few times while dating and after we were first married, but after kids were born we switched to the convenience of an artificial tree.
It turns out that the artificial trees wreak havoc on my allergies, and so many years later we have returned to a real Christmas tree. We don’t wander fields of our own property or a family friend’s for a cedar tree anymore, but we wander a tree farm to pay good money for a “pretty” Christmas tree.
Last Christmas this experience took forever. When we debarked the hay wagon, we spotted a tree we all liked barely ten feet away. Figuring there was no way the “good” trees would remain that close to the drop spot, that late in the season, we set off on a journey that led us across the entire tree farm. We looked, debated, argued, and contemplated hundreds of trees that day. After many disputes, we went back and cut the tree down right where the hay wagon had dropped us off.
I don’t think we’ll be likely to forget that Christmas tree shopping experience.
While we waited for the tractor to pick us up this afternoon one of the kids said, “We need to make sure we look right where the tractor drops us off. There’s no sense in walking a hundred acres if the one we wants right where they drop us off.”
We all laughed at the memory.
It turns out that when they dropped us off they told us that we could cut any tree we saw. They told us they couldn’t believe how many trees had been cut out of the farm that season, and that they were pretty picked over already.
Barely five feet from the drop off spot one of the kids spotted a tree. We all grinned, and nodded yes. The man driving the tractor turned and said, “That’s actually probably one of the best choices left out here.”
We debated and still decided to look around a little. We set off in a different direction from both other parties who rode the wagon out with us, an stumbled upon several trees that would do.
Then we came upon one that was close to perfect. Except for one thing. It had orange marking tape tied around a branch. It appeared it was being saved for someone, but the man said we could cut any tree.
We walked around the tree. We looked under the tree. We looked around the tree to see if any of the parties who had rode out with us seemed to be near us carrying marking tape.
There was no one around us. What to do?
Remove the marking tape, cut the tree, and play dumb? Wait for the tractor to come back and ask if the tree was being saved?
We looked at other trees around us. We debated. We complained to each other that we didn’t take the phone number offered to us to call when we were ready.
Chris hiked up to the drop off spot to wait for the tractor to come back and left me to guard the tree.
He finally gave up and came back. “We’re cutting the tree. He said we could cut any tree out here. This is a tree.”
Both kids had also wandered back at this time. Then we heard the tractor coming. Lily was still concerned about cutting down someone else’s tree, so she took off to meet the tractor to ask. Once she had talked to the driver she gave the ok sign to cut down the tree and ran back.
Sawing down the tree took two minutes tops, but by the time we got back to the drop off spot the tractor was already gone. We stood and goofed while we waited.
An unnamed member of our party decided it would be funny to tie the marking tape on the first “good” tree we saw by the drop off site. So, they did.
Not five minutes later came one of the parties we had rode out with.
The woman looks at the first tree we spotted, “Oh, this is a nice looking tree!”
Man, grasping marking tape, “Yes, and that’s why it belongs to someone else.”
We were about to come unglued. I’m trying to shoot daggers at the unnamed party, but the truth is I find it pretty funny too. Mostly because this is the same conversation we went through when we came across a tree with the orange marking tape.
“Unnamed party, that’s awful! You probably just ruined that family’s Christmas. Now they have no tree.” speaking individual bursts into uncontrollable laughter.
We’re all trying to keep from laughing because the family of four is definitely still within hearing range, but the harder we try not to laugh and try to feel bad about what just happened, the funnier the whole situation seems.
I’m really wanting to set a good example for my children, and I really don’t think that laughing about what just happened is a very good example, but it is kind of funny.
We finally convince the unnamed individual that robbing said family of that tree was wrong. So, they went and moved the marking tape to another nearby tree…moments before the family headed back towards us.
“What are we going to do when those people realize the marking tape is on a different tree? You realize you’re going to have to admit what you’ve done and apologize, right?”
The closer they get, the harder we laugh.
By now I’m looking at Chris in desperation.
“I don’t think I can hold it together if those people stop to look at that tree again. Or question the marking tape!”
Chris starts laughing. Lily’s already sitting on the ground laughing. Cameron’s laughing hysterically.
I keep thinking…this is so wrong. This is absolutely not the Christmas spirit. Tricking people in the Christmas tree farm.
Two minutes later the family shows up dragging a tree behind them, and in mere seconds the tractor and hay wagon show up. The family laughed at Lily’s antics as we loaded our tree onto the wagon and we held it together for the rest of the ride.
We are a family of practical jokers. I, however, am a protector. I don’t like jokes that are at others expense, and in my experience, pretty much all jokes are at someone’s expense. It’s hard for me to let loose and laugh. I’m too afraid of hurting someone’s feelings.
I won’t lie. I found this whole situation hilarious. But I was so afraid this family would find out what we had done and be upset. So, my spirit was at war with itself. Guilt and joy.
Now, I don’t think our behavior was the best example of Christian behavior. It is Christmas. We should have probably offered to help not given the appearance that trees were taken.
But, as an old stick in the mud, it was good to laugh…to let my family see me laugh…and to share in yet another Christmas tree selection memory that will live on for many, many years.