Part of Christmas while I was growing up was having a tree inside the house. Smelling fresh pine when you woke up in the morning.
“Dad, Dad, can we get a tree?” We pleaded, everyday for most of November and now all of December.
This was Michigan in 1972. I was 10 and my sister was 7. There weren’t a lot of things you could count on and we wanted that tree.
“We’re going to get a really really nice tree,” my father always said. The dark gray days marched on. Other people had their trees and everyday our living room was bare.
We knew weekends were our chance. My dad would leave the house on Saturday mornings to take care of "business" at his barber shop, even though it was closed. We'd sit at home wondering when he'd come home because, if he came home, this might be the day we’d get a tree.
On December 23rd, my father came home around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. "It's coldy colders out there!" he said popping his head in the door cheerfully.
“Come on in, dad, glad your home. What a storm.”
“Nope, we're getting a tree today!"
The wind was blowing an icy rain against the windows of our house. He’d been at the Liberty Inn all afternoon. He was wasted out of his mind.
"Dad, no we can wait. We really don't need a tree. Can we wait ‘til Monday?"
"We are getting the tree today and that's final!”
So the whole family loaded into our ’65 Ford Galaxie and headed out into the raging snowstorm.
We were sliding all over the road but my dad could drive like a mother f%&ker. Even with one eye open, leaning into the center of the seat, aiming the car like a gun, he was unstoppable.
Our veering car approached the shutdown A&W where they sold the Christmas trees. I could see the snowy lights and the bundled up people. They were giving away free coffee and steam was rising from the styrofoam cups in their cold hands. So beautiful. My dad could get a cup and sober up. Not a lot of selection left but there were still a few Christmas trees left on the lot.
Everything was going to be fine.
The windshield wipers were beginning to ice up, so we were relieved we had arrived. But my dad drove right by the lot and the beautiful lights and the trees.
"Dad where are you going? The trees are there!" We all shouted.
"Were going to see a movie first!"
"What? A movie? You never take us to the movies."
"Well, today I am!"
The movie theater was called the Wayside. We slid along Stadium Blvd to get there. I don't recall what movie we saw but I do recall the theater was large and it was packed. My dad talked to every person in the concession line as we got our popcorn. We settled into our seats, the lights went down and my father fell into a deep sleep and started snoring loudly. We sank into our seats with embarrassment, but everybody loved our dad.
There was way more snow on the roads when we got back into our car.
"Dad just take us home now."
"Nope, we’re getting a tree first!"
So back to the A & W. The old Ford plowed through the snow, back down Stadium.
We stayed in the car with the engine idling and the heat blasting, watching my father shopping for the tree. I was yelling from inside the car, "Just pick one already." The wind was blowing and the snow was piling and he was holding up different trees, really shopping for the right one. Only problem was he kept falling down with the tree. The tree would tip and he would lean to keep it from going over and then the whole thing would fall. The snow was falling more thickly now, blanketing our vision and our chances of getting home.
I got out of the car, picked up my dad, picked out a tree and shoved it in the trunk. I tied the trunk shut with the provided twine and we were finally going home.
The driving was deteriorating in a big way, but we were almost there.
The left turn signal went on and the car slowed. “Where are you going now?“I have to pick up a couple more things. We’re going to Kmart!”
He didn’t answer. We waited again in the car, my mom, my sister and I. It was a really big storm and we were scared.
Finally our car skated into the driveway. We had made it home.
My dad had bought a giant banner at the Kmart. It said “Merry Christmas” with a Santa flying through the night on his sleigh with the reindeer and all that.
Inside, my sister and I put up the tree. Outside, my dad teetered on a ladder in the howling wind and snow, trying to attach the cheery sign to our garage door.
RoosRoast is the perfect coffee for situations like this.