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We started a new tradition last year. We went to a tree farm in northern Michigan and chopped down a tree and brought it home. Tied it to the roof of our van, we did. I didn’t have string, so I borrowed some “line” from my father-in-law. It was “rope” now that I look back.
We’ve always gotten a real tree. Usually we go to a tree lot in the suburbs of Detroit and pay way too much (ahem, $90 anyone)? But it’s all about the charm of letting the kids run around and hide in between the trees and stuff like that. Then we pay too much for a wreath, etc. So, we thought we’d save some money (half, actually) and hit a tree farm. The kids still had a blast and the only complaint from last year was that I walked, saw in hand, half a mile into the tree lot before I found the perfect tree and then I had to drag said tree a half mile to my car. Oops.
This year wasn’t much different. Maybe I only dragged this really big Douglas Fir about a quarter-mile. I was noticeably less out of breath. But this year, I didn’t have “rope.” I had brought a roll of my own twine.
Did you know not all twine is made equal?
Well, I mention I’ve always bought “real trees” to demonstrate I’ve tied many trees to the top of my vehicle over these past 16 years of marriage. Never had a problem. There’s not much to it. Three lines are all I’ve ever needed. One at the base. One at the top. One around the middle just for good measure.
But with inferior twine, well, it’s a different story.
About a 1/2-mile down the highway after leaving the tree farm, I heard a “whoosh” and looked in my rear-view mirror and saw a fat Christmas tree bouncing and rolling down the right lane of I-127. And behind that tree, dozens of car (turning into a hundred cars) all slamming on their breaks. Me? In the blink of an eye? I became that a-hole that backs up traffic for miles. I pulled over to the shoulder and while everyone was backed up, merging into the left hand lane to avoid my tree, I backed up a few hundred yards back to my tree, put my hazard lights on, then ran into the highway to retrieve my tree.
My bad luck was slightly muted by the fact there was a snow-plow guy who pulled over to help and he put on his flashers. Truth be told, this guy was too helpful and not at all afraid of the cars whizzing by at 60 or 70 m.p.h. just a few feet from my vehicle (with my family inside) and me climbing all over my car trying to get the tree back on. He even kept kinda stepping into the right lane of the highway. He was far too confident that everyone would be paying full attention and not texting and driving.
Me? I wanted to tie the tree on at the minimum level needed to drive, slowly, about a 1/2 mile up to this house/driveway just off the highway. He wanted to make knots worthy of Boy Scouts or sailors of the 1400s.
He and I tied 6 lines to it and then I insisted we “get off the road” and I bid him farewell. I proceeded to the driveway, as was my plan, and then used the rest of my entire roll of twine to secure the tree (which was now on my roof fat-side/bottom-side forward). But when a guy stops and is helping you and puts himself in harms way, I wasn’t about to ask him to turn the tree around.
Three lines is usually all I need. On this day, after the incident, I had about 17 ties going across and around the tree. Gulliver himself wasn’t as securely tied down.
And I made it home, but all I could think the entire way home was, “if this tree flies off my roof, can I be convicted of manslaughter?” And while I slowly drove 65 m.p.h. in the right lane, I kept seeing other people coming from tree farms and their trees were secure in a netting type bag.
The lesson here? Maybe it’s worth the $40 to just buy it in the neighborhood or maybe I need to learn to tie knots.
All I can say is this …the tree has earned it’s place in our living room.
This made me choke on my coffee from laughing! Thanks, Don. Do you remember everyone going to Grandma & Grandpa’s house every year and all going out together to get our trees? All the food? Sledding down the hill and ice skating on the lake?
Great story Don. I especially loved the knot descriptions (sailors, Gulliver, etc). Keep traveling to the tree farm – just don’t kill anyone.