Burr Morse writes about Americana, history, Vermont, maple syrup and other things that some of the rest of us may miss in our busy lives. The following article was written by and is copyright by Burr Morse and is not to be republished elsewhere without his permission:
Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks
December 22, 2006
Hello again Maple People,
The words came out soft and under his breath, like we were dealing in something illegal: "I'd just as soon have a four footer--one that fits nicely into a corner and doesn't fight you all the way--keep that under your hat."
"My lips are sealed," I whispered.
He and the Mrs. had just made their annual rounds of our Christmas tree lot, tape measure in hand, examining the larger trees. They finally settled on the 10 foot beauty, a step down from their usual 14 footer. They've been coming to our place for years; she loves big, fluffy Christmas trees and he's always there with equal sized support. I've watched their love story unfold for many of the 36 years I've been a Christmas tree peddler, but, alas, they're crowding old age now and, in his words "gotta size down".
Over the course of that 36 years, I've seen a lot of Christmas tree psychology, the humorous, the touching and the downright prickly. I must admit that I'm capable of "the prickly" but have kept it under my hat all these years. You see, Christmas trees have grown in America, like cars and couches, from the spindly ones that nature offers to perfectly manicured, farm trees. We seed 'em, weed 'em, sheer 'em, and feed 'em...and they get HUGE! Since I'm crowding old age myself, in fact, they're much bigger than I am, but I continue twirling, caressing and talking 'em up. All the time I'm doing that I'm inwardly questioning the sense of it all. "Why would anyone put so much stock in something so fleeting, after all the average life span of a Christmas tree between the ax and the chipper is 2.1 weeks. But it's the interim, the sweet, nostalgia-packed interim that seems to matter so much.
A couple of my most memorable tree customers are two local girls with Martha Stewart taste and raw determination; Debbie and Dana require the two most perfect trees in the world and will stop at nothing to get them. Their impromptu arrival usually finds me in some kind of awkward place, like under a tractor with a grease gun in my hand or shoveling three feet of snow off a roof. It always starts in the same sing-songy way: "Oh hellooooo...we're back." Their radar zeros in on me, the most important person in their lives for the time being.
"Oh it's you again," I say, feigning gruffness, and then our dance begins. We head into our tree lot which I'm convinced will be a veritable desert to them. For the next hour, the three of us expend enough energy fluffing, poofing, twisting and turning trees to electrify Chicago for a month but nothing is quite right. I consider offering them each $10.00 if they'll go to the the competition but at the end, those dreaded words spew out like an avalanche; "We'll be back after you cut some more." I look out over the beauties they've just rejected, knowing there's nothing better to cut, but they leave before I can protest. It usually takes them multiple visits and me a huge amount of scavaging but somehow I always find them the two best trees in the world.
My good wife, Betsy, helped me with the moral to this story: She listens to all my bitchin' about "people and their trees" but quickly passes it off. "You know, Burr, it's not really about the trees...it's the rituals and relationships." she says. She points out the pure joy Debbie and Dana share over their annual antics and the love between the couple who buy a big tree. I get the residuals of sharing friendship with these folks and knowing of the joy in their lives that I help provide. The trees just stand as a focal point for the relationships, big, small, filled out or ugly. And speaking of ugly: Betsy and I have developed a Christmas tree ritual ourselves...we always take home the one tree that doesn't sell. It stands rejected by all our customers, ugly as a bulldog and barely green. I grab it, light as a feather compared to all the huge ones I've handled, and take it to my home. We prop it up in a corner and place a few ornaments on it, where it smells great and reminds us of the joy of Christmas...a very special tree, it is.
I'd like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for supporting Morse Farm all year. There are over 7500 of you folks now who like and look forward to my musings. I get lots of great comments about my writing and my products. There are other residuals for me, as well; a second book looms on the pre-Christmas, 2007 horizon, and I'm being asked to do public speaking a lot these days. It's all happening because you people gave me a venue for my writing back about five years ago with News from Vermont. I'll remind you that we have a special discount page for News from Vermont subscribers now, http://www.morsefarm.com/pages/products.php?catid=3...it's just another way of saying "thanks". Please let me know any other way I can ever help you. Always feel free to write me at email@example.com.
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays!