Published Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas' last stand

My newlywed daughter and her husband set up their tree this year. I asked her how it went, and she said, “We had a few tree stand issues. I almost had to pull a Ben Daddy.”

Tree stands were apparently sent by the Grinch to steal the spirit of Christmas. Just ask my daddy, aka, Ben Daddy.

Year after year, he struggled to get our freshly-cut tree to stand up straight in its stand with the help of three flimsy screws. Year after year, he failed, and we’d inevitably resort to other measures such as tying the top with string and running it across the room to help it stay in place. God only knows what Martha Stewart would have said.

One particular year – my most memorable Christmas – Dad met his match in a beautiful tree with a crooked trunk. I’m sure my sister and I insisted it was the one and that we had to have it. Perhaps the crooked trunk made it even more lovable in our eyes, but for Dad, tackling that trunk was like Ahab trying to catch Moby Dick. As my son is fond of saying, “This is not going to end well.”

Dad cussed and stomped around and made every attempt to force the tree into its stand, but the tree would have none of it.

Finally, Dad hit his boiling point. In a rage, he grabbed the tree and tossed it into the ditch in the front yard while my sister and I screamed, “Not the tree, Daddy! Are we still going to have Christmas?”

At which point, he answered us by flinging the tree stand like a frisbee over the roof of the house. I’m sure we women gave him the silent treatment, and, frankly, I don’t remember the rest of the story. I assume we got another tree, and I’m pretty sure Santa Claus came, but the memory of that event far overshadowed whatever we got in our stocking.

It’s been many years later, and we still laugh about that Christmas. I think Dad’s a little ashamed, but now that I have to deal with tree stands of my own, I can relate to his hatred of them.

This year, we searched high and low for a tree, which is ironic since my son is a Boy Scout and actually sells them. Sadly, we waited too late and missed our opportunity. After five or six empty lots, we drove our hungry children across town and bought a 6-footer for a whopping $70. Merry Christmas to us.

The only problem is, we couldn’t find our tree stand. We looked high and low through the many boxes of decorations. Still no stand.

Three days later, when the kids realized why we were tearing the house apart, they commented casually, “Oh, Daddy, you threw that stand out to the curb last year and said you never wanted to see it again.”

Mystery solved.

So, off we went in search a new and improved stand. We landed at a big box store where the last stand was on a tree out front.

Though the store was full of power tools, the clerk came out with a hand screwdriver, and after what seemed like an hour later, finally handed us our new stand. Problem is, it was just like our old one.

Too tired to shop elsewhere, we came home, and my husband wrestled our tree into the stand, wrenching his back in the process.

Someday, some smart guy will come along and invent a magical new method for keeping trees in place. Until then, we’ll go on making memories – with or without a Christmas tree.

Happy holidays from the Knight family.

© 2011 The Newnan Times-Herald Inc., Newnan, Georgia. Any unauthorized use, copying or mirroring is prohibited.