Two Trees and a Roll of Duct Tape

I have some really fun childhood holiday memories. Perhaps the most fun was getting our own Christmas tree. What really made the trip fun was going with Uncle Frank.

Uncle Frank was my dad’s baby brother. He was always so much fun. He had a great sense of humor, too.

The one thing Uncle Frank never seemed to have- at least at tree cutting time- was a car with a working heater. I am not sure if he and my dad thought it was more of an adventure that way. I mean, we could have gone in my family’s car- but we never did.

One year in particular, will always stand out for me. There were 7 of us in a Volkswagen beetle. Two adults, my Dad and Uncle Frank, three of my cousins, my brother and me.  Of course, no heater in the car. It was also a very snowy December, so the car was cold.

We were all bundled up as we headed out to get a couple of Christmas trees. There is a small space behind the back seat in an old Beetle. That is where my cousin Laurie and I sat. My brother and two cousins shared the back seat. Dad and Uncle Frank sat in front.

When we got to the tree farm, the dads pretty much left us kids on our own. There was a lot of snow on the ground and I remember sliding down a snowy hill, over and over. When we were called back to the car- we were all pretty cold- and our boots were full of snow.

I don’t want you to think that my Dad and Uncle Frank were not good parents or reckless. They were the best- and so much fun. They insisted we all take off out wet boots when we got in the car. Everyone tossed them in the area in back were Laurie and I had been sitting. We joined the others in the back seat. My cousin Gary sat on my Dad’s lap. Well, that was after my Dad and Uncle Frank got in the car.

See, there was this problem with the trees. For some reason they didn’t have enough rope- or any rope. I don’t really remember that part.

I just know, that at some point, with the kids shivering in the car- we were now wet and had removed our boots- My Uncle Frank and my father started taping two pine trees to a VW Bug. I remember them passing the tape over and under the car, making sure the trees were not going anywhere.

I feel the need to point out, that the rounded top of the beetle was not an easy place to secure a tree- or two. So the trees ended up more on the sides of the car, taped securely into place. I learned at a very early age, the value of duct tape. The guys had to come in through open windows, since the trees were pretty much blocking the doors.

When my Uncle started up the car- the windows were all frosted up. The heater did not work, so no defroster for the windows. He used his thumbnail to scratch off an area of ice about the size of a silver dollar. He closed one eye, put the open eye up to the little circle he had cleared on the windshield and declared – it was fine- he could see just fine.

We all laughed. He was laughing, so was my Dad. We took our cues from the adults and joined in the merriment. It was a cold, but laughter- filled ride home. When we got back, my uncle crawled out the window and un-taped the trees so we could all get out of the car.

My Mom and Aunt quickly got us into dry clothes and I am guessing they were not as amused by our condition as we were. The point is, no one got hurt and it probably toughened us up a little.

I am glad there are car seats and seat belts and air bags in cars today. I think kids and adults should be safely secured in all moving vehicles. But way back when- we didn’t have those safety features. It isn’t like they decided not to strap us in- they couldn’t.

While my Uncle Frank was laughing and joking around that day, he was also a police officer. I am sure he knew how to drive in snowy conditions. Maybe he was nervous. Maybe my dad was, too. But if they were, they didn’t show it.

I know there was a lot of love and laughter in the Beetle that day. I can only imagine the looks we got from other drivers on our way home. I couldn’t actually see other cars, however, as the view was blocked by the tree branches and frosty windows.

If there is any lesson- perhaps it is to be brave enough to be silly sometimes. While I don’t want anyone to put a child in harm’s way- don’t be so careful that your kid’s miss out on adventures, too.

Be the person that gives a kid a really good memory this holiday season. Perhaps, using duct tape and a couple of trees.




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