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Never buy a Christmas tree in the dark
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Gloves? Check. Pruning shears? Check. Bow saw? Check.

It seemed I was ready. You know its that time of year. Heather, the boys and I picked up our first Christmas tree, a Frasier Fir, Tuesday after work.

Leaving the newspaper office early on a Tuesday is relative. A little before 5, I heard the crew enter the front door. Fish, William, our 3-year-old, exclaimed as he ran across the room. The fish tanks at the office are a highlight for most visitors young and old, but especially for William.

Heather said they were stopping by to see the fish. And I guess they were, but another part of their mission was to make sure nothing got in the way of getting a tree on Tuesday.

After a few minutes of chaos, they decided to go ahead of me. When I left the office, dusk was slipping into total darkness. I raced to the first tree lot.

Arriving on the scene, I found slim pickings. There were three Charlie Brown trees in our height range. Shivering, I spun the wet trees around for the judges. It was thumbs down for all of them.


Fenn, our 1-year-old, had had enough. He made us aware with mind-numbing shrieks, shrills and full-body thrust. And then his brother chimed in.


Frowns were everywhere.

Lets try another lot, was my only response.

Trudging through the wet darkness, we arrive at the next lot. Leaning against some stakes were trees, but not much lighting. After digging though what was there, I struck a deal with the proprietor and loaded one up.

At home, after 30 minutes of wrangling and trimming, the tree was in the stand. But gaping holes were clearly visible. No matter how much I turned it, a good side couldnt be found.

I pulled in a deep breath and opened the front door. Here it is, Honey, I said. The living room lights revealed a trunk with three central leaders and sparsely placed limbs. And not a single smile could be found.

The next morning at 6:30, I returned the tree.

Wednesday afternoon, we met on the tree lot during daylight for Round Two. An exchange was made and the judges were happy. Wednesday night, due to recent practice, I was able to wrangle the tree into the stand and get it straight in record time.

I was once told to never buy a used car in the rain, because once the car dries, the scratches, dents and dull paint job appear. After this week, I would like to add to that saying. Here it is:

Never buy a used car in the rain or a Christmas tree in the dark.

Alan NeSmith is publisher of The Northeast Georgian and regional publisher for Community Newspapers, Inc.