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O Christmas Tree … Oh, Christmas Tree!

Fresh from the woods, we dug up more than we bargained for

The family agreed. This shapely 10-foot Norway spruce with beautifully spaced branches was our perfect Christmas tree. After Christmas, the living tree would find a new home in a corner of our half-acre lot.
    But this was an out-of-the-way farm, and the tree digger was unavailable. So we would have to wait a few days before we could take The Tree home.
    No problem. Christmas was four weeks away.
    The next week it rained. “When are we going to get our tree?” our 10-year-old son wailed.
    The week after that, I called on The Tree on Saturday. In such wet ground, no digging had occurred.
    “Are we ever going to get our tree?” demanded our 12-year-old daughter.
    The following week, I drove to see if The Tree was dug. It was still in the ground, but a digging machine waited only 20 yards away. My spirits jumped.
    But the ensuing week went by with no news of our tree. Frustration and tension grew. Christmas was now too close for comfort.  The kids stopped asking when the tree was coming. Now they both wanted to know whether we’d have a tree.
    On the Saturday before Christmas, I took the back seats out of the van and told the kids we were going to get The Tree.
    They jumped in, pushing shovels and a digging bar to the side. 
    My wife, doubting our ability to dig up a ten-foot tree, stayed behind.
    Back in the field, The Tree was still in the ground. We started digging. Before long, the kids were digging at each other. She was digging where he wanted to, and his handle was poking her …
    My daughter retreated to the van. In 10 minutes, she came out to show us how she had been killing time: coloring her fingernails with yellow highlighter.
    My son gave up a little later. He crawled into the van and pulled a blanket over himself. Two worn-out, bored kids and me busting my butt. This was Christmas.
    Just after noon when my wife showed up with sandwiches, fruit, drinks and a you-are-out-of-your-mind look for me. My daughter, now covered to the elbows in yellow highlighter, rode home with Mom.
    Three feet down, I could finally dig under the root ball.  Twenty minutes later the ball was free and The Tree fell to an angle — on top of me. From the van, my son laughed. 
    Then came the hard part, pulling the enormous root ball from the hole. It surely weighed 500 pounds. I worked at building up the ground under the root ball, but, after an hour, I had progressed only a few inches.
    I still had a long way to go when I heard a vehicle. Alerted by my wife, a neighbor had come to the rescue 
    He and I worked the ball out of the hole. Along the way, The Tree lost about 100 pounds of dirt. It lost another 50 pounds as we struggled to load it into the back of the van.
    Back home, I cut the root-ball down further to fit it into a washtub. We dragged the tree into the family room and heaved it in front of the picture window. Wife and kids ooh’d at The Tree and aw’d at the floor, which was soiled with dirt. Outside, the sun was setting.
    I tidied up floor and tree, pulling long vines from its interior. 
    The next day, we’re itching all over.
    That Christmas, we sang a new version of the old carol:

    O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, you gave us poison ivy.
    O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, you gave us poison ivy.
    You were so beautiful standing there. But of the weeds we were unaware.
    O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, you gave us poison ivy.