Hazardous traditions

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Holiday traditions can be hazardous to your health. Trust me; I have the scars to prove it.

Most people get up early the Friday after Turkey Day and go shopping. They choose to fight traffic, fight to get a parking space, and fight other shoppers to get into the store first.

After fighting for the bargains and jostling for a space in the checkout line, they fight the traffic again to get back home. And fight with their spouses about spending too much money.

Ever notice there’s a lot of fighting going on during the happy holiday time?

I tried the shopping thing last year. Didn’t get up early enough and got that one shopping cart with the stuck wheel. Left black skid marks all the way through Target. The Wife? She wasn’t very happy. The folks at Target banned us for the rest of the holiday season.

Most people go shopping the day after Turkey Day, at least those who aren’t banned from Target. We go tree shopping.

As far back as I can remember, going into the woods, chopping down a perfectly healthy tree and dragging it inside the house has been a great way to start off the holiday season.

Dad let me cut down the family tree for the first time the year I turned 7.

We lived at 110 Flamingo Street, and our backyard bellied out into a swamp. The path to the right led around the swamp to the lake above. Beyond the lake was Uncle Bob’s Christmas tree farm. I’m not really sure the bullfrog of a man smoking a stinky cigar was our uncle. That’s just what the sign said.

Dad led me through the forest of green, and after 10 minutes of running up and down the aisles — something else highly frowned upon at Target — we found the perfect tree.

Before he gave me Uncle Bob’s bow saw, Dad made sure I knew just what to do. “Hold the tree with one hand and saw with the other.” I didn’t say anything to Dad at the time, but he was treating me like I was 6. Guess he didn’t want to find out if Doc Jim worked on a holiday.

Come to find out Doc Jim did work on a holiday. My bandaged hand dripped blood through his waiting room.

Dad had given me good instructions about how to cut the Christmas tree down. But he forgot to tell me to cut the tree below where I was holding it.

I got 10 stitches and a cherry sucker. Dad got a bill and a brochure about Christmas tree safety.

The Boy is back home for the holiday, and we carried on the tradition. We drove to the local tree farm and walked up to the makeshift office where a man gave us a bow saw. I looked really close. Even though he smoked a stinky cigar, it wasn’t Uncle Bob.

The Boy ran up and down the aisles of green until he found the perfect one. Kneeling down, I gave him my instructions. “Hold the tree with one hand and the saw with the other. Before you cut, make sure you’re cutting below where you’re holding. You don’t want to saw through your hand.”

He looked up at me like I was an idiot. Grabbing the saw, he started to cut. When the tree finally toppled, he asked if I knew anyone dumb enough to saw their hand. I looked down at my scar and then at him, “You’d be surprised.”

The Uncle Bob wannabe flocked our tree with fake snow — fake snow, another holiday tradition — then tossed it in the back of the pickup.

The Boy wanted to know what we were going to do next. We needed new tree decorations so we headed towards the store with the red bullseye and made sure to get a shopping cart with four good wheels.

Just hope they don’t remember me from last year.

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