Chapter three – The Quilted Woodlot
A few years after the “Shotgun Christmas,” I was introduced to another Christmas tree hunt style. My first wife’s family was from a small island on the Maine coast. It was their tradition to go to their wood lot and hunt out a tree. They were teetotalers, so I expected no Schnapps, and nobody in that family hunted, so shotguns were out. We walked into the woods equipped with snowshoes and bow saws. This family was quite particular about their tree. Only Balsams deserved consideration, and those had to be perfect. My family’s criteria for trees were out of place here. It seemed that every tree I pointed out had some fatal flaw I couldn’t see. This pattern worked out to be an ongoing theme in the marriage, but I was not yet aware. In any case, the wood lot became quilted by our snowshoe tracks that afternoon. By dusk, it looked rather like one giant spruce covered waffle.
At last, on the very edge of the lot, we spotted the perfect tree. Then came the final test: would Mommy like it? I was cold and wishing for some of George’s schnapps by this time; hell, I’d of been happy to have a shotgun. I listened to them, discussing whether Mommy would like the perfect balsam. After about forty minutes of this, they decided to hike through the lot to the other side to view several other candidates. I decided to stay and watch the sun go down. As they traipsed away, I thought about my frozen feet, hands, and nose. I looked at the saw; I looked at the tree. I went to the perfect tree and started cutting. Sometime later, they traipsed back through the lot and said: “We decided to take this one” as the tree fell. After that, I avoided spending Christmas with my in-laws.