Last week, we were faced with a disaster.
Actually, as disasters go, it wasn’t much. In fact, I’m a little embarrassed to call what almost happened a disaster. It wasn’t as though our house was going to burn down or we were about to be taken hostage, or anything like that.
Still, it had us a little worried because, had the event happened, it would have left a big hole in our holiday: We would have been facing Christmas without a tree standing in our living room, casting its soft lighting over our Christmas celebration.
We learned about this possible disaster one afternoon when we set out to purchase a tree. We anticipated buying a reasonably sized tree, maybe around 5 feet tall. Such a tree would be easier to decorate and would fit nicely into our house without a lot of maneuvering. It could also be at a more reasonable price and be transportable via a Toyota Camry, which is as close as I’ve ever come to driving a pickup.
When we arrived at the American Legion Hall, where the local Boy Scouts were selling trees, we were shocked to find the lot empty. Wife Karen couldn’t believe her eyes, claiming that there had been lots of trees there the day before when she was last in the area.
Well, we returned home and learned, through a few phone calls, that the Scouts were, in fact, out of trees. What’s more, nobody else in town was selling them, and no more trees would be coming. Another phone call to Cody revealed that the big city was out of trees as well. In fact, there seems to be a shortage of Christmas trees all over.
Now this situation was serious. Facing Christmas without a tree for the cat to sleep under and occasionally knock a few decorations to the floor was terrible. It would mean that, after 74 Christmases with a tree, my 75th Christmas would be treeless. Even worse, this Christmas will be celebrated with grandchildren in the house. How could we possibly have a Christmas with children but no tree?
There was a time when we would have had a ready answer to our dilemma. Back in those days, we used to buy a tag from the Forest Service and head for the mountains. Sometimes we did that with other members of our church, other times we went alone. Either way we had fun — if you consider walking through thigh-high snow banks dragging a 6- or 7-foot tree fun.
Unfortunately, those days are long gone, thanks to advancing age and deteriorating bodies; they have left us unfit for such adventures, so that solution was out.
Fortunately, I thought back a few years, and remembered a Christmas shortly after we moved to Powell when it similarly seemed that no one in Powell was selling trees. At the time, though, I was still working down in Greybull, and knew that the local grocery store was selling trees. So one Sunday, after attending church in Greybull, I stopped by the store and picked up a tree. It arrived at home an hour later in the trunk of my car (well, most of it anyway) and the next day it was decorated and on station in our living room.
With that memory in mind, Karen made a few calls and found that the Boy Scouts in Greybull did indeed have around 30 trees left. They actually were thinking about hauling them over to Park County, because their sales had slowed to a stop.
We made the drive into Big Horn County the next day and bought a tree. The only problem was that all the trees they had left were around 7 feet tall, which meant they were more expensive. While I took care of the financial part of the trip, one of the men working there helped Karen slip it into our old Camry (we were wise enough to leave the new car in the garage) with only a foot or so sticking out of the trunk. We had an uneventful ride home with our trophy and parked it with its feet in a bucket of water.
The tree — the tallest Christmas tree we have ever had — is now decorated. It nearly touches the ceiling, and for the first time ever, we needed all four of our strings of LED lights to properly light the tree. There was plenty of room for our motley collection of ornaments. Some are glass; others are made of wood, yarn, metal, paper, cotton or materials I can’t identify. Two of them are as old as I am, and others are barely a year old. Some remind us of the nativity we are celebrating; some remind us that the darkness in the world will stop advancing this week as the seasons turn and the days get longer; still others remind us of the simple joy of Christmas and the happiness it brings.
We like it, and our grandkids are going to love it.