December, 2009

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Giving Thanks for Christmas Trees

This weekend was Thanksgiving and I drove 8 hours from CMU in Pittsburgh, PA to my grandparent’s place in Newland, NC.  Well actually although I’d rather not admit it, the 8 hours turned into 11 hours because I read the map wrong. I can understand multiple roads merging and sharing the same physical road. For instance, one road going south and another going east can share a physical road going southeast for a while. However, a road designated as traveling south and a road claiming to go north should NOT be sharing! My directions said follow I-81 S/US-52 N – in what crazy system is going down this road both north and south?!? Very confusing it is, and caused me to travel an extra 150 miles.

Regardless of how many times I got lost (once! OK? No need to insult me!), I arrived the night before Thanksgiving. My grandparents have a Christmas tree farm and late every fall they cut, haul, bail, and load Christmas trees – some wholesale, some for their retail customers in Florida where my Uncle lives, and some for the Choose & Cut customers. Often the Choose & Cut customers are families who want to come up and have a good time looking around for a tree, have us cut and load it for them, and then go home with a frees tree they selected themselves. It is really quite nice to see families having fun with this – some spend hours analyzing what seems like every one of the thousands of trees to find the perfect one. However, this means the whole family works over Thanksgiving and the weekend. Which means I spend all day outside in freezing weather trying to process 6-14 foot Christmas trees. The first day it snowed on us while we were trying to bail 50 or so trees. My shoes got soaked, my jeans got soaked, everything. It was quite miserable, and worst of all it started snowing just as the sun was going down and the wind was picking up. By the next day the temperature had dropped to 15 F with winds 15-20 mph gusting up to 50 mph. It was quite bitter. But luckily my grandmother and mom were making cookies and hot apple cider for the customers who came so we could go to the barn to warm up and get some warm snacks. Fortunately, Sat and Sun warmed up significantly to 45 F or so without much wind, so I was able to work without being miserable. All and all, I think I helped cut, haul, bail, and load a few hundred trees. Wow, I’m tired just thinking back on it. We would always dread the monster ones – or sequoias as we called them – that were 12+ feet tall and weighed…well I’m not even sure other to say I couldn’t lift it myself. Which I’m embarrassed to say isn’t really saying all that much because I’m a skinny nerd. Suffice to say, I was very sore and tired and amazingly enough went to bed before midnight almost all the nights.

But it was a good time and I made some money out of it. It’s always good to help out the family biz – and I got some great meals out of it too.