LAW OFFICE MONAST
www.monastlaw.com | 614-334-4649 | 5000 Arlington Centre Blvd. Bldg 2, Suite 2117, Upper Arlington, OH 43220-2913
MEMORIES OF A CHRISTMAS FOREST THE BEST HOLIDAY JOB I EVER HAD
T he semitrucks would pull up shortly after nightfall, frosty condensation billowing from their exhaust. But the way I remember it —whether true or not —before you’d even see them turning the corner, you’d be overcome by a welcome, familiar smell of evergreen. On the backs of the trailers, packed tightly between the slatted wood sides, were hundreds of Christmas trees. Pine, spruce, and fir trees, wreaths, and garlands were all loaded up and shipped from remote farms in Canada, the Upper Peninsula of That State Up North and elsewhere, ending their long journey in the loading bay of Frank’s Nursery & Crafts. I worked at the place as an all-purpose stock boy, janitor, truck driver, and forklift operator for nearly four years in high school and college, trimming shrubs and unloading thousands of pounds of composted cowmanure and peat moss alongside my buddy, Eric Dougherty. Considering that the work allowed me to spend most of my day outside, work with my hands, and get into probably the best shape of my life, it had to have been the best job I ever had before law school. But my favorite moments at Frank’s by far were those nights when the Christmas-tree stock would show up, bound with twine and ready to unload. They say that scent triggers some of our strongest memories. Based on those days, I’m inclined to believe it’s true. There is nothing like the fragrance that wafts off the boughs of hundreds of fresh pine trees. We’d spend hours shaking off the snow, tossing them off the trucks, and setting them up for display, bundled up against the bitter nighttime temperatures. First, we’d lay out a gravel base over an acre space, and then pound big, 6- to 8-foot steel stakes to lash the trees against, holding them up.
Eventually, after we’d propped enough of them up, it would create this strange little
self-contained forest. I’d wind between the trees amid the hush while the moon hung above in the clear night sky. Even as we worked, it was impossible to be unmoved by the crisp quiet and resist the pull of the almost-palpable holiday spirit.
The biggest load would show up right around Thanksgiving, but we’d replenish the stock about four more times before Christmas. Each delivery, the routine was the same. Yet, every time was a unique, refreshing experience, bringing with it this blessed peace— the sort that comes when you’re out hiking in the woods. During the rest of the holiday season, we’d do the normal stuff, carting around the Christmas decorations and whatever else needed doing. And when there was downtime, we’d have“grenade wars”in the huge storage barn, using Christmas ornaments as ammunition—unknown to the bosses, of course. After that last shipment of trees was through, and as satisfying as it was to have a job well done, it was always just a little melancholy. Another year’s worth of trees finished, we’d pack into our cars and drive off. But the memories of these nights would follow us for decades to come.
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