The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 11, 2011

Tom Lavis | Oh no, Christmas tree

BY TOM LAVIS
TLAVIS@TRIBDEM.COM

— I made an urgent call to Crutch Crupnik to see if he would accompany me on an important mission.

My wife informed me at this late date that she wanted a smaller Christmas tree.

“The old tree is too big, and I don’t feel like moving the furniture to make room for it,” my wife said.

I liked the idea of getting a slim model and maybe even shorter than the monstrosity we have.

We switched from having a live tree to an artificial model more than 15 years ago.

Our first fake tree looked like it was designed by a drunken Fuller Brush salesman. The green needles resembled brush bristles and were just as stiff.

That tree lasted only one Christmas. I shouldn’t have been surprised because it was only $39 on sale. I think we bought it at Woolworth’s.

It was so bad that my wife burned all the Christmas photos with the tree.

That was the year our daughter was 3 years old, and every Christmas picture we had of her was taken near the tree.

We never did tell her why there were no photos of her from 1979.

We made the mistake of buying a contemporary-style artificial tree the following year.

It was white and a model even Parson Brown would cuss about.

Money was tight, and we kept it for several seasons. We ended up donating it to a thrift store.

We decided to break the bank and buy an expensive holiday showstopper.

Touted as a tree the top designers would have in their homes, we bought the giant tree without reservation.

It is a beautiful tree but it’s as wide as it is tall and takes up half the room.

I explained this to Crutch and he said he would save me a trip to the store and some money at the same time.

“When a real tree gets too big, they trim it,” he said.

He suggested we cut branches to slim it down to allow it to fit in a corner of my living room.

Wanting to save cash during the holidays, I agreed.

We removed the cardboard box holding the disassembled tree from the basement and transported it to the garage, where we could give it a streamlined look.

We placed all the branches into the metal pole and came up with a strategy.

“Let’s use hedge clippers,” I suggested.

Crutch rolled his eyes and pointed out that ordinary hedge clippers wouldn’t work because the limbs also were metal.

“Give me a hacksaw,” Crutch said.

That was the moment I started having second thoughts.

I’m sure it’s the same feeling Samson had when Delilah asked for a pair of scissors.

Crutch started sawing away. After the first limb, he realized a pair of wire cutters would work better.

I stood back and watched Crutch cut. It was like passing a car crash, I couldn’t look away.

When I finally came to my senses to stop the madness, it was too late.

There Crutch stood as if he were Joan of Arc tied to the stake. Had my wife witnessed the scene, she would have lit a match to the pile of limbs that surrounded Crutch’s feet.

Instead of a Christmas tree, the artificial pine resembled a palm tree.

Knowing we failed, I packed up what remained of the butchered tree to donate it to charity.

“Perhaps a family of elves can hack off the trunk of the tree and use the top 3 feet as a decoration,” I told Crutch.

I  wanted to buy a pencil-thin, pre-lit tree with limbs on the bottom and multicolored bulbs that blink, just as my wife suggested.

Before shopping, I dropped off the old tree at a thrift store.

As I left the store, I heard the guy in the receiving department ask a co-worker what he should do with my tree?

“Put it with that ugly white tree we got years ago,” he said.

Ouch. Clipped twice in one day.

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