It is hard to believe that the saga of the bank Christmas Tree had a happy ending. What began as a happy holiday family tradition turned into a multiyear slow motion train wreck.
It all began at Sam’s Club about 5-years-ago when I spotted the answer to our annual holiday conundrum.
Every year our little family would go to the local hardware store and purchase a real Christmas tree. We would happily loaded it on the roof of the family truckster and bring it home with warmth in our hearts and smiles on our faces. Once home the problem immediately began. The “live” tree would slowly, but surely, start to shed those green little pine needles everywhere leaving a needle trail from car, to porch, to home.
For me one of the greatest mysteries of the Holiday season has always been just how many needles the average Christmas tree can shed and still look fresh. That number must be well into the hundreds of thousands. For every year the tree just sheds, and sheds, and sheds, while I vacuum in a futile and never-ending effort to keep the growing piles of needles at bay.
So here’s a suggestion for all of you vacuum cleaner salesmen. Next time you want to impress and prove how strong and effective your machine is at picking up dirt. Just use a handful of pine needles to prove your point. Simply sprinkle the needles across a typical wall to wall carpet and give your vacuum a whirl at picking them up.
I would be willing to bet that you’d be very lucky indeed to vacuum up even a dozen of the little pine needle beasties. Mother Nature, through thousands of years of evolution, has created the perfect vacuum proof object. The little beasties manage to immediately work their way into the fibers of the carpet making them completely suction proof. In fact, it would not surprise me one bit if after a level 5 tornado tore through our home on Christmas eve, all they would find would be the carpeted floors with hundred of thousands of pine needles stubbornly holding on to the carpet.
It was with this though in my mind, that 5-years-ago I made the executive decision to purchase the stunning life-like and completely pre-twinkle-light-lite artificial 8-foot tree on displays at my local Sam’s club…and that’s when all the trouble began.
The box the tree came in was huge. So huge that it took four additional Sam’s club associates to get in my car. And if you’ve ever been to Sam’s club you must already realize how difficult this was. As just finding one associate at Sam’s club who is under 80-years-old and able to lift a stunning life-like and completely pre-twinkle-light-lite artificial 8-foot tree is a Herculean task.
When I got home I huffed, puffed, and dragged the tree box from the family truckster and into our living room, opened the box, and realized why it had taken three of us to budge it. I had mistakenly purchased the 14-foot version of the tree which my wife immediately called the “Bank Tree” as it was indeed so gigantic as to only really belong in the lobby of a bank.
But now there was no way I was going to take this beast back. It had become a point of pride, plus I could never get the thing back in the car.
“Yes dear, I really meant to purchase such a big tree,” I lied. “What a great way to celebrate the holidays,” I told her with a somewhat shy smile.
“But it won’t fit in our house?” she protested.
“Don’t worry dear,” I added. “We can set it up in the formal living room at the front of the house just in front of the big window.”
She looked at me with grave suspicion, but in the end she relented and the bank tree was now the official family Christmas tree. I should have trusted her judgment. Getting the bank tree home was just the start of our troubles.
To begin with, every year I need a small diesel crane to set-up the tree. It was so massive and so unwieldy that it took a neighborhood effort to construct it. Worse yet, just to be able to put ornaments on the upper half of the tree, I would have to set-up a network of ropes and pulleys that would make the set designer at Cirque du Soleil proud.
When plugged in, the tree did indeed sparkle with hundreds of thousands of bright twinkle lights as advertised, but it also drew so much power that I could slice a side of beef on my spinning electricity meter.
In fact, putting up and taking down of the bank tree became such a massive task that we quickly realized that it was almost impossible to enjoy the holidays. So a few years ago I decided to completely eliminate the very bottom most section of the bank tree.
The tree came in 5 parts (A B C D and E) that fit on top of each other with section “E” (the bottom layer) being the biggest and most unwieldy. In a stroke of what I though was brilliance at the time, I suggested that we leave section “E” in the basement and thus eliminate about three feet of the bank tree.
This seemed to work well, but it did leave the tree a bit wobbly. However I wasn’t worried as I was over-the-moon with my simple yet brilliant simple solution.
Than came Bloody Tuesday or was it Wednesday as it will forever be known in our home? I’m not really sure what it was as it happened around midnight, when we woke up to the sound of a thunderous crash followed by the gentle tinkle if breaking glass. We ran out of the bedroom to discover that the bank tree had toppled over, and crashed into the front window taking dozens of my wife’s most prized antique Christmas ornaments with it.
Did I forget to mention that my wife only collects only one thing…Christmas ornaments?
But still with unholy pride I clung on to the bank tree. From that year on I had to secure it with invisible fishing line to various anchor points, like the stairway banister, around the room. This had two effects:
1) The finishing line was all but invincible invisible making it look as if the tree stood tall and proud all on its own.
2) Almost decapitated the family dog as the fishing line was all but invisible.
So it was with both relief and trepidation that I watched as the friendly Mexican family took away the bank tree this summer. You see I had been cleaning out the basement (after about 5 years of gentle prodding from my wife) when the Mexican worker cutting my neighbors grass saw the growing pile of basement stuff on my own lawn.
I had planned on taking the huge pile of 20-plus years of accumulating stuff to Good Will, but the look in his eye gave me an idea for a win win outcome to the day’s work that would have him doing the last part of my work.
“cómo es usted,” I said, which means ( as I’m sure you know) how are you…and happens to be all of the Spanish I know.
“muy bien” or fine,” he relied.
“Do you want any of this,” I asked and spread out my arms like Mosses as if to indicate that all this stuff could be his for the taking?
“Yes,” he said in English with a warm smile. “Let me call me cousin who has a pick-up truck and we’ll take it all señor.”
What I had failed to notice during this transaction was that I had also pulled out the bank tree to get at more stuff in the basement, and now it was part of the general pile.
So it was indeed with both relief and trepidation that I watched as the growing squad of Mexican cousins came and took away a giant pile of twenty years of accumulated stuff, and one gigantic bank Christmas tree.
I just hope that in their wise and sharing nature they realize that the bank tree is just way too big for one family. Perhaps they will split it into parts (A, B, C D and E as I had tried to do) thus giving 5 families the chance to celebrate Christmas in the glowing light of a somewhat short and stocky bank Christmas Shrub.
Roman Mica is a columnist, journalist, author and editor of TFLcar, who spent his early years driving fast on the German autobahn. When he’s not reviewing cars for the active set, you can find him training for triathlons and writing about endurance sports for, EverymanTri.com