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Mountain Home Magazine

Surely You Have a Sure Stand?!

Dec 01, 2023 09:00AM ● By Maggie Barnes

“A tree dealer?”

Bob shot me a side eye glance, then returned to watching the snowy road.

“That’s what they said,” I replied. “He has property with large trees, but he only sells by referral.”

“We need a referral for a Christmas tree,” Bob said, shaking his head. “We have officially gone around the bend on this.”

I had to agree that it was weird, but the people at the tree farm had been quite certain. They didn’t have trees that exceeded eight feet, and we were in the market for a thirteen-or-fourteen-footer, so they contacted a guy with a small grove of monster trees. We were now armed with a name and a location.

And there it was—an unassuming white farmhouse with a stand of evergreens in the side yard. They were gorgeous, and I stumbled around in the snow in their midst, overcome by yuletide euphoria.

“Bobby, look at them! I want them all!”

The landowner smiled. “My late wife and I planted them when we were first married. I hate to see them go, but I know she’d want them to be a part of a family’s Christmas.” I swallowed the lump in my throat and blinked back the threatening tears.

“That’s why you only sell a couple a year?” I asked. He nodded.

“I want to like the people who take them. You came very highly recommended.”

I felt honored, while Bob’s look told me he felt silly.

A half an hour later I had made the agonizing choice of a tree, though, truth be told, any of them would have worked. As Bob handed over a stack of cash, the owner asked if we had a stand that would be big enough. We explained we had developed a system using a bucket, bricks, sand, and fishing line. He hiked an eyebrow.

“You don’t have a ‘Sure Stand’?”

“Since we don’t know what you’re talking about, I’ll go with ‘no,’” I said. We spent another fifteen minutes looking at online photos of the Stand Straight System for oversized trees. “The tree farm who sent you to me has them,” he offered.

Back we went to be introduced to a clever gizmo that drills a hole in the center of the trunk to match the spike in the center of the stand. Bob watched skeptically. More than once he mumbled, “I don’t know if this is going to work.”

The stand cost as much as the tree, meaning our holiday tradition was adding up to a mortgage payment, but I was all in on this concept. Bob was giving me the same look he did when I tried wearing horizontal stripes. The most charitable thing he could say was: “Ain’t working for ya, Babe.” However the deed was done, and we stood in our living room with a small band of friends who had responded to our plea for help.

We have learned through our years at Glory Hill that standing and securing a fourteen-foot tree is not a two-person job. They were expensive lessons, costing injury, damage to our home, and the estrangement of several friends who no longer answer our phone calls in December. This crowd was up for the challenge, including a new addition, a friend of a friend sort of situation. We were immediately enamored with her when she threw herself on the floor to steady the stand about six minutes after we met. Impressive rookie move. This gal was a keeper.

We were prepared for battle. But an odd thing happened when the tree was slid onto the spike in the stand and shoved upright, a thing that had never happened before.

It stood.

One by one, we slowly moved our hands away from the boughs, keeping them in position for the inevitable tumble. And. It. Stood. No wires, no bricks, no thirty-pound fishing line anchored multiple times to the window frame. Bob and I shared a look of total disbelief. The house was silent. No one dared breathe. I swear to you that the tree’s branches settled into full extension and the tree itself sighed.

“I don’t believe it,” I whispered.

“Nobody move,” Bob hissed, convinced what he was seeing wasn’t genuine. I knew what was in his mind—the year the tree fell back against the windows only to launch our antique crucifix across the room and cost Jesus his left hand; the year the bucket tipped over and enough wet sand to entertain a daycare sloshed all over the hardwood floor; the year a hunk of the tree got stuck under the bucket and gouged into that floor a slash that still exists today, inspiring my spouse to create never-before-heard swear words.

But none of that happened. The tree stood. We still tied it off, because we are veterans of the Evergreen Wars and we didn’t want to take the chance. Then the group stood back and admired. Total time of the operation: nine minutes.

For the rest of the day, Bob and I wore expressions that would suggest something bizarre and unexplainable had happened. “All those years…all that time,” he would murmur.

Some small part of me felt sad. The annual wrestling match with the tree was as much a part of our Christmas as cookies and Bing Crosby, so it felt strange to know we had fought our last fight. Would we enjoy the tree as much without the bloodshed, without feeling a thousand tiny perforations on our skin, without gobs of sap on our hands and the occasional pine needle shoved under a fingernail? Would it feel like Christmas without something broken in the house?

Turns out it did, and we did. So we have closed that chapter of our holiday tradition and look forward to more peaceful entrances for our beloved Tannenbaum. We calculated that what we save in time and Band-Aids will help depreciate the cost of the new stand. We should break even right around Christmas 2044.

Too bad the holidays only come around once a year.

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