I have done many jobs in my life, wearing many hats. Worked on barges, cleaned horse stalls, sold carpet, even sold Christmas trees…SAY WHAT?
Yeah, you heard me correctly…I sold Christmas trees. In fact, for about ten years straight every year, right after Thanksgiving, I started pulling out the insulated everything to get ready for the Christmas season’s snowy, icy, wintery blast. Standing out in the mush and slush of St. Louis area weather for up to ten hours at a time.
And ya know what?
I was pretty good at selling those babies!
You see, I have and always will like Christmas time. The hustle and bustle of buying presents for everyone and then putting them under the……..Christmas tree. The live tree that smells like winter in the forest. The feeling of walking in a forest when in your footies you find two-inch long daggers of green that cause small spots of red to magically appear from your skin…….
Yup, those are the ones I used to sell.
And FIREPROOFED! In fact, I used to demonstrate to the prospective buyers just how safe our trees were. I would simply hold my handy dandy butane lighter up to the branch of a tree and “Look ma…no fire!”
Except for one time when the tree practically spontaniously combusted in my face.
Sometimes when I got bored, I would borrow a bicycle from one of the youngsters that helped out at the small country store and ride all over the tree lot pretending to be an eagle looking for prey in the forest. But…after an hour or so the wind chill would kick in and I would discover that my hand I thought was warm and toasty in my mittens was actually frost-bitten and about to fall off my body.
Now, don’t get me wrong….there was a lot of work involved in this venture. The trees would come in all wrapped in netting and would have to be cut open, the trunks would have to be cut and shaped to fit in the holders that stood them up straight and tall (kind of), and then…my favorite part….I had to look at the tree and decide on a price to sell it for.
I usually got the price I was asking for but sometimes (when I was in the ‘Christmas Spirit’) I would let someone talk me down a little.
I remember one Christmas eve in particular when a man pulled up in an older model car and as he got out, he went around to the passenger door to help his little girl get out. I’m guessing she was not much older than seven…They walked straight over to the smallest trees we had and the man said to me, “Mister, this five dollars is all I have for a tree…so just show me which one and I’ll take it.”
The little girl was silently fingering, feeling the branches of trees that were shorter than she was…staring down at the ground sadly. Now, I know a hustle when I hear/see/smell it…..and this wasn’t one.
And I wasn’t about to let this night of all nights pass in a broken,poor, defeated sadness….so I said:
“Five dollars, huh? Tell you what…it’s Christmas eve and I think I have a tree worthy of your five dollars. Let’s look over here…
We went over to the REAL Christmas trees…the six footers….the forty dollar (this was in the eighties!) Scotch pines.
When the little girl saw these wonderful monsters all around her, her entire countenance changed. She was a happy little girl at Christmas time smiling and looking up at her dad who, in turn, looked at me, looked at the price tags and then said, “Are you sure? I don’t want you to get into trouble or anything”
“Don’t worry…it’s O.K. I’ll help you tie it on your car.”
Every year at this time I think of that little girl and pray that all her Christmasses have held wonderful surprises.
And….I thank my Savior that I got to help make one of them even just a little bit better.
Let’s do our best to personally touch someone’s life this Christmastime. After all, two-thousand Christmasses ago Someone came to touch ours.