I’m sure we all have them. Crazy Christmas Memories, I mean.
My craziest goes back to Christmas 1970. I’m always reminded of this by the movie Christmas Vacation. I was a freshman at a college about an hour north of Houston. Some Houston friends offered to come up and get me, but they had an ulterior motive. They wanted a Christmas tree. Now the area around Huntsville TX, where my school was located, is littered with all manner of evergreens, so it seemed like a fairly doable idea. We pulled off the interstate and drove down a side road and found a suitable sapling, like one about nine feet tall. Unlike the movie, my erstwhile friends did indeed bring an ax, or to be more accurate — a hatchet. Working in the dark, and hacking away furiously before a car came, we all took turns and managed the down the tree, a scrub cedar. It was at least somewhat Christmas tree shaped.
Ah, but what everybody forgot was … rope. We were in a red VW beetle and we had nothing we could use to secure the tree. The solution? Everybody sacrificed their belts. Somehow we got the tree tied to the top of the VW but I think we lost a foot off the tree by dragging the top along the highway. It really did look like the car in the movie, except we didn’t have the roots. It was completely draped over the car, with the tree-stump clearly visible from the windshield.
We did okay for about 30 minutes but eventually we had a minor problem caused by the wind shear and the weight of the tree and the drag caused by the … well, caused by us dragging part of the tree behind us. The problem? Well, all the belts snapped and we lost the tree on the highway. It was rush hour, with tons of traffic, and our tree was rolling along in the lane behind us. We screeched to a halt and pulled over and ran back and somehow dragged the tree off the road without getting ourselves killed.
By some miracle, we managed to get enough strands of our broken belts wrapped around a few branches and we were able to again secure the tree. We continued on our way, but now we were less concerned with maintaining full highway speed. A couple of us kept a firm grip on a branch on each side of the car as well.
Decorations were sparse that year, but we had a tree! Actually, I’m surprised we didn’t end up arrested or dead. Both options were a distinct possibility. What were we thinking? I think that answer is best represented this way: NOT!