Here in the good ol’ (relatively speaking) US of A, Black Friday is usually the moment where a mass contradiction occurs. The day before was Thanksgiving, where families got together and feasted on a massive banquet of various foods, all usually supplied by the only good cook in the family. Everyone that day is thankful for what they have, but the following day, Black Friday, is where suddenly, you are compelled to beat the ever-loving shit out of someone for a Plasma-Screen that’s 25% off.
However, on that crazy day, my dad had other plans. Since everyone was brawling for parking spots at Wal-Mart, and my mom was out of town, he thought to surprise her by buying an X-Mas tree early.
Let me also note that it was below water-freezing temperatures, and I was just settling in to my fluffy pants. But what could I do against the main figure of authority in the house? So on we went, Dad griping about the Route-1 speed traps the highway engineers must have purposely constructed along the way.
Soon, Dad noticed that the sun was starting to set. In his self-indulged haze of genius he forgot to bring the early sunset into the equation. So now we were in some of a hurry, and when Dad tries to get things done quickly, bad things ensue.
Which is exactly what followed a short while later.
When we just arrived, we passed by a small area that had pre-cut trees for sale. It was quite cold and my hands were starting to hurt, so I tried to convince dad that maybe we should get one of those instead.
That was a mistake.
“No.” He said. “We’re going to cut down our own tree. And we are going to do so within the hour!” Normally I would be quite intimidated by this, but I could see it in his face that he was also cold and wanted to go home as well. But he set this charade of masculinity up, and now he had to fulfill this to the end.
So we then were told to mount a rickety tractor trailer ride, that was quite bumpy.
Now, I’m not one to talk about my nether regions, but I don’t have that much body fat on my rear. And since the ride was quite rickety, every time we hit a bump I would receive a sharp pain in my pelvis bone. On top of that, we were surrounded by various other sons and fathers, all who probably were trying to look tough in front of their kids despite the frigid weather. This set up probably the most powerful atmosphere of misery I have ever experienced.
It was overwhelming.
When we finally reached the pine-tree fields, the grizzled, army-camo-donning, semi-aggressive war veteran who drove us handed each of us a hacksaw, and then told us where to go.
We found our preferred tree fairly quickly. It was a wide one, with puffy needles and thick branches. Upon finding it, Dad told me to stand opposite of the side where he would begin sawing away at the tree. And so he began to slowly cut away.
About thirty seconds in, I heard Dad shout something expletive. “Is everything alright?” I attempted to say through my shivering. “Everything’s okay here.” He said. “This tree just has a really thick base.”. And so he went back to sawing away.
Ten minutes passed of slow sawing and cursing, while I stayed obediently by my post, shivering away. My hands were completely numb by that point, and my face had started to turn a pale shade of blue. Soon, we came to realize, was that this tree was not going to just let us cut it down.
In the past, most of the trees we bring home cooperate with us when we try to cut them down. They’re the right shape, bend very little when bagged up, and usually don’t spread their needles everywhere and scare the cat.
This one, however, was much different.
This twisted soul of a tree even went as far as breaking the hacksaw we had been offered. Internally, I took this as a sign to give up. This tree was obviously aggressive, it was freezing out, and the sky was starting to illuminate with stars. But no. My Dad had to keep his image of power in check. No tree was going to prevent him from appearing strong and capable. So he soon obtained a saw from someone else whom was hauling their cooperative tree towards the tractor.
And so he went at it again.
At this point, I could almost feel my blood beginning to freeze. But I had to stand watch for when this tree would finally topple.
My Dad finally snapped when the saw hit a rather dense spot in the trunk. And in his adrenaline filled rage to not lose to this tree, he gave it a powerful kick in it’s side.
With a deafening “Crack!” the tree toppled to it’s side. My dad had won. In this battle of highly unfavorable odds, he had conquered this tree, and thus could keep his image of manly pride in check for a few more months. We then quickly hauled it back and placed it atop the car in a mesh bag, as if it was a deer we had just hunted down instead of a sedentary plant.
The tree, however, was still aggressively trying to deal as much damage as it could to us, even if that meant damaging itself.
However, we did finally bring the tree inside, cut it down to size, and place it in our living space.
And that’s how I nearly caught severe hypothermia thanks to a persistent tree and a flamboyant sense of masculinity.