You may be wondering why we drive more than 40 miles to get a tree. Surely there are many trees that are just as good at half the distance. I’ll tell you why 40 miles matters: tradition!
I don’t remember why we started going there, but who cares. When you start applying logic to your traditions, soon you won’t have any. But that doesn’t mean we can’t incorporate some statistics, hence the annual Christmas Tree Index.
Last year, after more than 25 years of cutting down Christmas trees, it seemed like an interesting idea to rate our performance. Interesting because some of our tree harvests have been… well, horrendous experiences.
My system rates the tree cutting on a scale of one to 100 based on mood , weather, field conditions, tree quality and transportation. Each of those criteria account for 20 points. This year’s score was 90, beating the 85 we tallied in 2013.
I’d say that this year things were damn near perfect, with the notable exception of field conditions. The Thanksgiving storm meant we trudged through half a foot of snow, some of it covering soggy ground. The snow, while picturesque, also made it somewhat difficult to assess the trees adequately. Ten points off. I nearly took off points for the extreme mud in parts of the parking lot, but it did not significantly affect the day.
Also of note is that we cut down two trees: our own and one for my son’s apartment. It was actually easier tying two to the roof of my car, so no points lost for transportation.
It may seem to you that with recent scores of 85 and 90 that tree day is consistently trouble-free — but don’t be fooled. There have been dark years where we would have been lucky to scratch the 40 point mark.
One area that would always get a perfect score is tree quality. Once the tree is standing in the living room, festooned with lights and ornaments, it would be hard to give even the gnarliest and most misshapen tree anything less than 20 points. And when you sit and look at it there in the corner, it’s easy to forget any trouble that might have come along with keeping up the tradition.