I remember my attitude during my adolescence. Part of my being longed for the future, so I could witness how my generation would top the one before us. I speak of technology, social improvements, pop culture and the like. Now, that I’ve lost an uncle, the man I was fortunate enough to call my godfather, I almost feel the need to preserve the type of life his generation, and that of my grandparents, lived. I’m not saying I want to regress socially, economically or technologically. What I am saying is that I want traditions, heirlooms and structures, that speak to the attitude of men and women of the past, to survive on this earth. I want everybody to know, and live accordingly to the wishes of my ancestors, so they can beam down from heaven in nostalgic bliss.
Now, I’m pretty sure Uncle Kenny cut down an evergreen and decorated it in his home for Christmas. I do know the generation before him most certainly did. I remember doing the same with my parents as a kid. It was fun! We actually went in a farmers field, along a tree line, and picked the one that would best suit the livingroom. It seemed, however, what we envisioned the tree to look like in our living room, and the final product, were worlds apart. Eh, they had tons of character back in those days I guess.
So, in keeping this age old tradition alive, I tossed my artificial tree and found a tree farm about 18 miles east of Green Bay, down State Highway 29. This little place does it absolutely right, setting the mood for a festive Holiday season, even if I’m down one loved one this particular year.
I’m recuperating from a very hard part of life, I said my goodbyes to Uncle Kenny today as I drive into Aissen Tree Farm. Ken’s brain was swelled and I don’t know if he was aware we were there to show our love. However, I told him I loved him and tommorrow I will learn that he passed the morning after my visit. I know today, however, is the last day I will see this man, who provided me with so many uplifting memories, alive.
But there’s life to be lived and I am undoubtedly certain he would want me to live it. So, as I reach the apex of a slow grade along a long gravel drive, I find a man dressed in a Grinch Santa Clause suit. It changes the mood entirely. When I meet him, with my diver’s side window rolled down, he asks, “Have you ever been here before?”
I answer with a chuckle, staring into the menacing eyes of the grinch, “No.”
He responds in an incredulous way, “Why not?”
I shrug, “We didn’t know about this place till we drove by this past summer.”
He grudgingly accepts the answer, and gives us a brief rundown. “Each tree that is ready to be cut down has a tag. On the tag are the details of the tree being: Price, the type of the tree, it’s height and it’s name (Every tree on the farm has been named). ” He also implores us not to cut down any tree without a tag.
They’re pretty simple guidelines so I respond with, “No problem.”
He also informs us that they sell pre-cut trees. Yet, I just drove in the middle of nowhere to get a Christmas tree. If I wanted a pre-cut, I would have purchased one from a lot in town. I ask for a saw and he obliges. I park the car, and Heidi and I are on our way.
Heidi has never had a real tree and I, save for one Charlie brown tree reaped from my grandfather’s woods, haven’t had one since my childhood. This promises to be fun. I always find that when I take Heidi on a new expedition, her reason for liking our endeavor is totally distant from my own. As we peruse the trees, trying to find one that is best, she exclaims as we check the tags for price, “This is like shopping for trees!”. Which I guess it is, I like to think it’s trudging amongst an evergreen forest to find that perfect tree that will liven my living room. “Did the pioneers name their trees?”
As we slop through the mud of an above freezing day, we find the perfect tree. It’s a blue spruce, her name is Donna and she’s five and half feet tall. The price is only 26 dollars so I’m perfectly happy. Actually, all of these trees are well trimmed and I can’t imagine any looking horrible in my living room. There are also Balsam and Frasier firs to choose from, though the price is a little higher for those. Still, they’re all pretty reasonable.
I lay on my side on this sloped field, where the mud isn’t too thick, and begin to saw Donna from her ties to the earth. It’s a little more difficult than I thought, but after about fifteen minutes, Heidi and I are carrying the plump little she-tree towards the building to be bailed. The Grinch had informed us that bailing costs two dollars extra. All tolled, it’s twenty eight dollars for a Christmas tree, and a traditional holiday experience to boot.
When we reach the building, a man takes our tag, sends us inside to pay for our tree and promises to tie it to our car. So we walk into a beautiful shop full of Christmas décor. “Look at this uncle Ken,” I think to myself with an absolutely enchanted smile. I could here him say “Oh, man!” With his good natured and contagious laughter to go along with it. This place is crammed full of Christmas cheer!
Heidi peruses the shop and I pay for the tree. When we’re finished, we head out, claim Donna and watch the men competently tie her to the car. As we head home, I sense a feeling of warmth hit my soul. It was simply the best experience I’ve had while picking out a Christmas tree, save for that time my dad shot one down with a shotgun.(true story).
As we give the tree its home for the Holiday season, I realize that Aissen Tree farm was perfect. It wasn’t rough on the pocket book, it was a fun experience from the minute we pulled in the lot and the staff was more than eager to help in any way. I felt it was a warm-hearted celebration before Christmas and, considering how my morning started, I really needed that. Plus, the northeast corner of my living room has never looked so good.
And Uncle Kenny, we will meet again…but not just yet.