Note: This is the story of our first Christmas in our Nederland home back in 2010.

It looked so much bigger inside the house than outside in the forest.

But that was only the beginning of our problems.

With my entire family coming for a mountain Christmas in Colorado, I wanted to really impress them. What better way than to put up a huge Christmas tree? One that would take full advantage of the vaulted ceiling in our mountain home?

Finding the tree would be easy. And it would be free!

We wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of driving to a Christmas tree lot. Or tying it to the car and driving it home. Who could figure out what those trees looked like anyway as they lay flattened against each other? You’d drag a tree out of the tangled mess of limbs. Bryon and I would pull at the limbs trying to gauge its fullness. But we wouldn’t figure out until we got home, that one side of the tree was missing half its limbs.

No need to worry about that. Just a stroll behind our house yielded a lovely Douglas-fir with all its limbs on full display as they fanned out from the tree. The shape and size looked ideal. Bryon brought the hand saw.

“You want to give it a try?”


How hard could it be to cut down a tree? The trunk was only about 6-7 inches in diameter.

I sawed and sawed with all my might. Soon my shoulder ached. Then I got a blister on my hand. It became harder and harder to move the saw back and forth.

“I’m done, you’ll have to finish it.”

Bryon made short work of the tree with quick, short strokes.

“Timber!” I yelled with glee as the tree fell down to the ground.

While we didn’t have to hoist it on top of the car, it wasn’t that easy to drag up to the house. It definitely had some heft, as I struggled to pick up the trunk.

“Maybe I should carry the trunk and you can carry the tip” Bryon graciously offered.

After just a few steps up the hill, I was huffing and puffing.

“How much does this thing weigh?”

We finally made it to the deck, and opened the sliding door, which led us to another challenge.

Trying to get that tree through the opening was like trying to put the baby back into the womb.

Bryon pulled at the trunk as I tried to guide it carefully through the opening.

Yes, indeed this was a much bigger tree than I had realized.

Finally, with branches snapping and needles spraying, we got it into the great room. We took it over to the tree stand. Its trunk dwarfed our little plastic tree stand. As soon as we poked the trunk in, the stand started to wobble and the tree began to topple.

“I think we’re going to need a new tree stand to hold this tree” I muttered.

Where to go? Where else? The local hardware store, McGuckins, had everything, even tree stands to hold huge trees.

“How tall is the tree?” asked the older man in his green vest.

I looked at Bryon. “It’s probably at least 17 feet, maybe 18” he said.

“Oh, you’re going to need a really sturdy stand, this one will do it.”

He gestured to a massive box. Looking inside, it looked more like a ceramic planter, with legs folded tight against the ceramic pot. They had to be at least three feet long.

I looked at the price tag — $80!

Suddenly, our free Christmas tree wasn’t looking like such a deal.

But what choice did we have — the tree was laying on the floor of our living room.

We took our massive stand and trucked back home to Nederland. Using our massive tree stand, we got our 17-foot tree up. While Bryon held on to the trunk, I furiously twisted the screws to hold the trunk in place.

Then we faced one more conundrum? How to get the lights on.

The thing was so tall, none of our stepladders would reach it. One side of it bordered the stairwell, so I could probably use that to drape lights on one side. Bryon grabbed the house ladder and leaned it against the loft.

“If you stand on the stairwell and hand the lights over here, we might be able to get it around the tree.”

But after four strands of light, we only made it halfway down the tree. And so, back to the hardware store — this time for more lights.

Finally after hours, we had the lights up and began hanging ornaments, using the same technique. I leaned over from the stairwell to hang the glittering reindeer. Bryon hung off the ladder placing the shiny ball on a bushy branch.

“How are we going to get the angel on top?” I said.

“I’ve got an idea” Bryon replied. He grabbed a pole we used to close the shade on the skylight. Looping the angel to the one end, he extended the pole ever so gently to the top of the tree, setting the angel down on the spire.

I was ready to plug in the lights, and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

But no sooner did we hang the final ornament, than our cat Dora began climbing it.

Good God — what if she climbs out on a branch? She’ll bring the whole thing down!

I laughed.

“What?” said Bryon.

“I don’t think we can call the fire department to get the cat out of the tree.”

After we both giggled for a minute, Bryon reached up and plucked her off the trunk.

And finally, we were able to plug the lights in, sit down and enjoy our over size Christmas tree.