Six-foot and bushy on the round

Work in Progress By Ivan Morgan

A decade and a half ago I was living alone in my house in St. Phillips. My teenaged children had escaped the hardship of being 10 kms from the Mall for the bright lights of St. John’s. A buddy of mine noted that as a divorced dad with an empty nest, I didn’t need to bother with all the Christmas nonsense. No need to bother with a tree, for instance.

Not have a tree!  Perish the thought!

The very next morning after a hearty breakfast I went out my back door and up into the woods looking for a tree. I walked down an old overgrown road, and came out into a large field, in the corner of which stood a stand of young spruce. A good spot to look! I went over to check for a suitable tree. I didn’t notice it right away. It was nestled among the other trees. Then I saw it. I crouched down and looked at the stem, thinking it was thin on one side. Nope, branches wide and generous all around. I stood there looking at it for a minute, and then decided to cut it, drag it out onto the grass and have a better look.

Was I an expert? As a university student I had made cash cutting and selling Christmas trees. Done right it was very lucrative and a strictly cash business. Great for a student. Suffice it to say I have cut a lot of Christmas trees in my time.

It’s a tough business. When your trees are cut you haul them to town and stand freezing in your lot waiting for customers. A car would pull up, the passenger window would roll down a crack and a woman would ask if we had any six-foot bushy trees. Everyone wanted a six-foot bushy.

Then there was a little dance where my buddies and I would hold up tree after tree after tree while she sat in the warmth of her car saying “Too thin. Show me another.” She was – like everyone – looking for the perfect tree, the six-foot bushy. And so it went ‘til she found a tree she was happy with.

Decades later here I was in the middle of a field with the queen of the six-foot bushys, the actual perfect tree.

It was so perfect I carried it back to the house on my shoulder rather than dragging it and scraping the branches.

When I got it in the house and up, I marvelled at it. It was really the perfect tree. I called my mom, my kids, my then girlfriend.

“Wait ‘til you see this tree.”

I decorated it. That evening I had a few drinks and just sat and looked at it. Perfect symmetry. Thick and very bushy. Perfect height. With the decorations and the lights on, it was a sight to see.

Over Christmas week I told everyone about the tree. There was no cell phone cameras or Facebook in those days, I had to describe it.

“You absolutely have to come over and see this tree.”

The kids were too busy doing their thing. I tried hard to convince them to come out to see for themselves. One, with the loving sarcasm all parents know, said to her sibling “Wow. Dad decorated his own tree for once.”

No. It’s not that. It’s really perfect.

That year my brother hosted Christmas dinner at his place in town. I spent half the evening telling family members they had to make the trek out to my place to see this unbelievable tree. I could tell I was getting on people’s nerves raving about it.

After Christmas the weather turned awful, and folks didn’t want to drive out. I lived too far from town, everyone was too busy. No one was coming to see my tree.

Just after New Years I realized no one was ever going to see this most perfect of Christmas trees.

Following a lifelong tradition, I took it down on Old Christmas Day. As I limbed it and junked it for firewood I realized the irony. After a lifetime of searching, I had found the perfect tree. The legendary six-foot bushy. One I would never find again, and no one else would ever see it but me.

When I sold trees, I used to tell my customers “They all look the same when they’re decorated.”

Don’t believe it. It’s a lie.

Ivan Morgan can be reached at ivan.morgan@gmail.com

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