The story of our first Christmas tree still makes me chuckle. The year was 2003 and the place was Cambridge, Minn., where we were living at the time. I hope it will give you a good laugh, too. 


For our first Christmas in our new house, I thought it would be neat to start a family Christmas-tree-getting tradition. Something like going out to a local tree farm and finding just the right tree. With time running away from us, we decided to skip the nostalgic experience of finding and cutting our own tree and took a trip to the local Menards instead. Besides, it was too cold to run around a tree farm and we’re too cheap to spend $25 on a tree.

We got to Menards and sorted through the tree yard in search of the perfect tree. Glen likes short-needled trees and I like long-needled trees, so we compromised and picked out a Scotch pine. We grabbed the tag off the tree, found some lights, paid for our items, and drove into the gated yard to load our tree.

As we were hauling the tree over to the car, the lady in the security booth asked if we were going to tie it to the top of the car. I quickly said yes and asked if they had any twine. She pointed to a big brown box about 75 yards away and I took off to round up some twine.

I cut a piece of twine way too long for our needs, attempted to gather it up and instead succeeded only in tangling it up on my way back to the car. By this time Glen had grown fairly impatient. (It was extremely cold, quite late, and he wanted nothing more than to be home decorating and not out collecting decorations.) Muttering under his breath he managed to find the ends of the twine...I had cut more than enough, so the large knot in the middle didn’t make a difference.

Time out.

I should interject here that it took me three weeks to convince Glen that it was socially acceptable to tie a tree to the top of our car. Initially, he was adamantly opposed to the idea for fear of looking like an idiot; he thought the back seat or trunk would work better. I told him that everyone ties trees to the tops of their cars and we wouldn’t look silly. So I thought.

Glen threw the tree on top of the car ... and it rolled right off the other side. More muttering. He went over and threw it back up there, holding on this time to keep it in place. He tied one end of the twine around the trunk and told me to start the car and open the windows. Not thinking twice, I did what he said and rolled the windows down. I got out of the car so I could hand the twine back to him after we passed it through the open windows.

We threaded the twine around the tree, through the front windows and through the back windows a couple more times. Comfortable that it was secure, we knotted it up good and tight. By this time we were both so cold we couldn’t feel the ends of our fingers. I turned to get in the car, pulled the handle, and realized that I could not open the door because we had tied the twine around the doorframe. 

“Glen, I can’t get in this door,” I announced.

He replied, “We can’t get in any of the doors.”

The humor of the moment hit me first and I doubled over in laughter at our mistake. Luckily, the windows were still open. Glen rounded the car, hopped in through the window ‘Dukes of Hazard’ - style, and told me to hurry up and get in. I was still laughing so hard I honestly couldn’t gather myself to jump through the window. By now, laughter had replaced Glen’s foul mood as well.

I finally managed to hop in through the window, skinning my shin as I landed in my seat, and we took off for the exit. We stopped so the lady at the security booth could verify our purchase and the first words out of her mouth were, “Well now what would you do if I asked you to get out of the car ...” I clutched the dash in laughter.

Glen’s giggles returned full force, but he told her he could get out if she really wanted him to. “They do it in the movies all the time,” he said.

She replied with, “The idea here is to open the doors, not the windows, when tying the tree on.” I told her we were first time Christmas tree buyers and that we’d realized our mistake only a few knots too late. She checked our tree against our receipt and let us go.

We giggled the whole way home and I commented that it was pretty bad if two college graduates couldn’t figure out how to tie a tree onto the top of a car. I believe now that the cold must have frozen our brains, preventing us from thinking clearly.

Our next thought was that by this time the lady at the security booth must have had a really good laugh at our expense, if she hadn’t also alerted the guys monitoring the security cameras inside. “Hey guys, check out the couple in the tree yard ...” we could hear her saying. I’m sure she must have seen our error coming long before it dawned on us, but was laughing too hard to let us know about it.

After our short trip home, Glen pulled out his pocketknife, cut the twine and let us out of the car. Our tree was handsomely decorated with a string of lights, the pew bows from our wedding and our two ornaments. I still get the giggles when I think about that first Christmas tree. 


May we remember this holiday season that Christmas is about spending time with loved ones, creating memories for the future, and not letting the season’s stresses overshadow the small moments of joy. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 70 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have two children – Dan, 3, and Monika, 1. When she’s not parenting or farming, she’s writing for the Dairy Star. Sadie can be reached at