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Jacob Hatcher

Oh, Christmas Tree

By Jacob Hatcher

Community Columnist

I guess I was probably twelve years old, and that being the case my brother would have been sixteen. One of his friends had a line on a job that he said would be fun plus put a little bit of Christmas money in our pockets. It was very simple: each day after school, we would find our way to the main intersection in town, where beside a Texaco station stood Stuart’s Christmas Tree lot. Stuart came down from Quebec each year, made his home in an old airstream on a patch of grass behind the station, and with the help of the most random assortment of teenaged boys you’ve ever seen sold the fire out of some Douglas and Frazier firs.

Looking back, we worked like rented mules and were paid just about as well, but it was my first taste of my own money. We would work from after school until the last customer was gone, whatever time that might be, child labor laws not withstanding. With the wisdom and experience of the last twenty five years I now know that there are a lot easier ways to make much more money, but the truth is we probably would have done it for free.

When things slowed down, there was nothing more fulfilling than sitting around a nice fire telling jokes, eating a supper of Dr. Pepper and Little Debbie snack cakes. It seems like a lifetime ago now, but for three or four Christmas seasons that corner was like a home to me. I spent all year waiting for the day when there would be a Canadian accent on the other end of the phone letting us know he’d be in town in just a few days.

Now any time I drive by a tree lot I can’t help but feel a yearning. I wonder if they’re having as much fun as we were. I see them standing around a fire, and I’m half tempted to stroll up next to them and drink a Dr. Pepper for old times sake. But I don’t. Because I’m not twelve anymore. And they would probably think im crazy.