Gather Round - Oh Christmas Tree

            This year I plucked the first Christmas tree from MarshallâEUR(TM)s Tree Farm.  The TODAY SHOW was coming to my house and I had to have a tree!  (Watch me live from the Plaza âEURoeDecking the HallsâEUR on Saturday, December 1st!  And check out my fun book MERRY CHRISTMAS, AMERICA! at your local bookstore.)  Now, back to our story:

Cutting my tree at a tree farm is a yearly tradition since the first year I stepped out of the truck at MarshallâEUR(TM)s Tree Farm and was greeted by Mr. Edgar Marshall and more Christmas trees than I had ever seen in my entire life.  Or perhaps all the trees I have seen in my entire life âEUR" plucked from my memories and planted in two fields of fertile earth. 

âEURoeHow many are there?âEUR I had asked as Mr. Marshall handed me a saw. 

âEURoeYou mean counting the little ones?âEUR

âEURoeI mean how many I have to pick from,âEUR I said trying to avert an O.C.D. hyperventilation.

âEURoeTen thousand.âEUR I felt weak in the knees.  So I did what had to be doneâEUR"decided to choose one and choose one fast. I walked over to a Green Giant, just short of Rockefeller Center material âEUR" and stood by it, hoping to stay focused on its towering figure and not be distracted by the hundreds, the thousands of others that wereâEUR¦oh, no, off in the distance one caught my eye.  I walked toward it.  And before you could say partridge in a pear tree, I was sucked in.

âEURoeWhat time do you close?âEUR I desperately asked Mr. Marshall at one point.

âEURoeWell, it gets dark in an hour or so.  What size do you want?âEUR

âEURoeBig,âEUR I drooled.  âEURoeWell, sort of big.  I mean, not too big.  What do you think?âEUR

âEURoeJust walk around a little.âEUR

I turned and walked back in.  The problem was IâEUR(TM)d pick a tree and try to go find someone for a second opinion.  On my way to finding someone, IâEUR(TM)d see another tree, and IâEUR(TM)d suddenly forget where the first one was.  Or in what direction.  They all looked alikeâEUR"at least until you got into serious evaluation of their features.

At one point, I got lost and couldnâEUR(TM)t find my way anywhere, thinking tomorrowâEUR(TM)s headline: MAN WITH SAW ON THE LOOSE. I started a new technique of hanging objects from trees I likedâEUR"my scarf, a piece of ribbon from my pocket, and a used tissue (sorry about that, I never found it again). 

Oh, and âEURoeFrankâEUR, I found your treeâEUR"your weathered drugstore receipt was still stuck to the beautiful Frasier fir you picked that year or the year before.  But just so you know, since it had your name on it, I passed.

One woman was great at giving a quick, honest evaluation:  âEURoeUgly.âEURÂ  âEURoePotential, but not this year.âEUR âEURoeNot good for kids.âEURÂ  âEURoeSucks.âEUR

I developed a great tree-hunting vocabulary:

RustâEUR"the tree branch equivalent of age spots. 

CollaredâEUR"neckline issues.

TilterâEUR"needed chiropractic help earlier in life.

DeadâEUR"well, that one explains itself.

As it got darker, I got more frantic.  I brought out my Secret Weapon. 

âEURoeI know you are not taking Polaroids,âEUR the woman laughed when she rounded a pine and caught me in the middle of getting a good angle on a fir.

âEURoeYes, IâEUR(TM)m taking Polaroids!âEUR I confessed. 

But with that foolproof technique, I found the perfect tree.  Of course, it was in the hinterlands of MarshallâEUR(TM)s.  Its capture went something like this: âEURoeTimber!âEURÂ  Flop.  âEURoeOuch!  Help!  Someone help me.  IâEUR(TM)m trapped over here.âEUR

But something about the magic has pulled me back every year since.


Santa says: âEURoeMERRY CHRISTMAS, AMERICA" should be in every stocking!âEURÂ  Grab your copies before they run out âEUR" available at your local bookstore or through on-line retailers at 

            Next time, my FIVE STEPS TO A GORGEOUS TREE.






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