When Christmas came for my first son, Jamie, I wanted to do something special to remind us of the wonderful occasion. I bought a tiny pine tree down at Homer's Hardware store for us to decorate for our new son. My plan was to plant it in our yard after Christmas so Jamie could watch it grow along with him. He would be able to point to the tall tree and tell his children that the beautiful pine had been his first Christmas tree. Heartwarming, is it not?
The tree spent two weeks in a warm house before being planted outside. I didn't know much about planting trees but I knew this would be special. I had a hard time digging the hole for the tree because I kept stopping to pat myself on the back....such a thoughtful, sensitive man.
I finally got a hole dug deep enough to plant the little tree. I watered it as the north wind began to kick up then went inside to warm up. We lived as far north of town as we could get and like the saying goes, "there was nothing between us and the north pole except a barbed wire fence". It was a particularly hard winter that year. We had driving wind, dust storms, sleet. In fact, we had everything a winter can throw at a person except rain.
The next morning as I left for work, I noticed the little tree didn't look very well. In fact, it looked like it might actually be close to death. I went inside and got a bucket of water for it before heading out and slowly let the ground soak up the moisture. I was late for work that day. When I got home the tree hadn't improved but it wasn't worse. I worried about it all night and got up earlier than normal to check it the next morning. It's needles were turning yellow and curling up at the ends. I ran for more water. This went on for nearly a week until I was about to give up on it. I hated that my plan for planting a tree for each of my kids might be a failure. On Saturday, I clipped off a small branch and headed over to Homer's to see if anyone could help me save the tree.
It is true that most people working as clerks are just that...clerks. Not only have they not been training for the products they sell but they also have a distinct apathy for those products. I was disappointed to hear that the "Tree is dying dude. Have you considered watering it?" As I walked out of the store an old man stopped me and asked to look at the small limb. He examined it and told me the tree needed iron. I bought what I needed and memorized all the old man had told me:
- Mix the iron with water.
- Water the tree slowly, very slowly, once each week on the same day.
- Try to water the tree at the same time of day.
- Be patient.
I followed the old man's instructions to the letter. I chose Sunday at 3:00 o'clock for the watering because I knew I would always be home at this time. I had to feed the water very slowly so it wouldn't run off on the wind-baked soil. Some days it was cold. Some days it was okay. Some days it was so bitterly cold and windy that only idiots and tree lovers would be outside. I was one of the latter but always felt I was one of the former....especially when I would notice neighbors peering from their windows at the idiot sitting on the ground next to a twig.
The tree didn't respond to my efforts. As the winter wore on it lost all its needles. There was nothing left of it but the tiny little trunk. It would have been easy to step on. A normal, sane person would have pulled it out of the ground. It was even too little to bother putting it in the trash...just pull it out and let the wind carry it away. Did I do that? No, I did not. I spent every Sunday afternoon watering my little twig sticking out of the ground. Debbie told me I was crazy. My neighbors stopping speaking to me. People passing in their cars just shook their heads, feeling sorry for the young lady married to the insane guy.
When spring approached I will admit I was ready to give up. I couldn't see mowing around a dead twig. On the day I went out to pull it out of the ground I looked at it closely to make sure it was dead. I saw dozens of tiny buds sprouting. Jamie's little pine had survived the bitter winter. I was beside myself. I ran in and told Debbie, then I ran to Jamie's room and told him as I bounced him in the air. He said, "Gaagah googoo" which I interpreted as " Way to go Dad!"
As it turns out, we sold that house a few months later and moved into Hurst. I drove Jamie and our newest bundle of joy out to our old house one day and showed them the Christmas tree. Cody just slobbered on his thumb and Jamie replied, "hmm". Impressed indeed!!
I learned a lot from this experience. I learned perseverance in the face of strong difficulty. I learned patience. I learned little boys could not care less about a tree you kept alive just for them. I didn't plant a Christmas tree for Cody. I am quite sure he couldn't possibly care less.