Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Tree

Soon men all over the world will embark on that glorious and venerated tradition of picking the "perfect Christmas tree" for their living room or den. These 21st-century pioneers will blaze trails through forests of live trees armed with a razor-sharp hatchet or enough chainsaw horsepower to carve their way through the Amazon Rainforest. Others will wander through cut-tree corrals that have sprung up, almost magically, on church parking lots or vacant corner properties where convenience stores used to be. The quest for the perfect tree has brought weak men to their knees and strong men to tears, for (as every man knows) there is no perfect tree. Oh, there are stories told of men who have come close, beaming before their doting wives and bug-eyed offspring with their tree-selecting prowess (only to be disappointed once the tree has been erected by an unseen bare spot or a knotted trunk that won't set right in the stand). Sadly, in the end, many have come to believe the perfect tree is an urban myth foisted with subtle, cornpone deception by tree lot operators and tree nursery owners across this great land of ours.

And here's the reason why. The perfect tree must be tall enough to satisfy the children, whose self-esteem can be crushed by having too small a tree, but small enough to stand in the room. The perfect tree must be wide enough to accommodate every ornament, but not so wide as to impede movement through the living room. The perfect tree must have full and symmetrical branches, but must have openings to frame each and every ornament in order to maximize the wow factor. The perfect tree must have long enough needles to last throughout the season, in spite of a lack of water. For these reasons and others, some men have opted out for the artificial tree as a way to minimize squabbles at the tree farm and to preserve domestic tranquility. But, alas, even manmade trees fall short of perfect tree requirements, leading men to ask the universal question, "Why do I do this?"

Men, the tree season is upon us. Older men, it is time to step back and watch the younger men approach the task with naïve joy, leading their families into the wilds of the forest or tree corral determined that they will not only find -- but also obtain -- the perfect Christmas tree. Older men, let them be! They need to learn for themselves what took decades of tree expeditions and countless living room debates to achieve -- the perfect tree is in the eyes of the beholder.

Yes, that is the secret older men have guarded throughout the centuries. The perfect tree does exist -- in the eyes of the beholder. One man's perfect tree may be another man's third choice, but that is okay. For you know you made the perfect pick when you gather the family around the tree, throw the switch, and watch their faces light up. After a collective gasp, the room falls silent as they gawk and wonder how they ever doubted your selection. And then the smiles form, your wife reaches out her hand and you know... this is a perfect tree.

Well done, good and faithful tree picker-outer. This Christmas is for you and all those like you.

May your tree be perfect this year!

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