An upside down Christmas


Upside down Christmas trees were trendy a few years ago. I first saw one at the West Jefferson Festival of Trees, an event that helped our family kick off the Christmas season every year until 2020 turned the world upside down.

COVID-19 canceled the festival, just like it canceled the Chamber of Commerce Christmas parade, the annual performance of Handel's "Messiah," Santa pictures at the mall and other activities that many people associate with the holidays.

There are also a lot of families like ours who are going through the motions this year while grieving the loss of loved ones as well as a way of life.

Maybe some of y'all can give me some advice on how to do that because my instincts have been to lean into the crazy and it's only a matter of time before people start to talk.

Let me take you back to Black Friday. 

I have decided that we must get our Christmas tree from a tree farm this year instead of picking it up in the parking lot of a chain store.

Once we arrive at Beavers Christmas Tree Farm in Trafford, I keep us walking up hill and down dale in search of the right one. 

For some reason, I was on a personal mission to find a white pine because I had read that this farm was the only one in our area who offered it.

Our search took us to the top of a fairly steep hill. The white pines did not disappoint. Wyatt quickly declared them his favorite because of their super soft needles. 

I was trying to decide between a white pine and a Blue Ice Cypress when I noticed a group of trees at the bottom of the hill that warranted investigating.

So off we went, saw in hand, only to find the same species of tree that we had just left.

In the end, we went with the pine for the kitchen and the cypress for our main tree. We don't usually have two live trees, but this is 2020. There are no rules.

I insisted on cutting the cypress myself for reasons that only make sense through the lens of the aforementioned grief.

My Daddy was a logger. His daddy was a logger. I thought that surely I could adequately handle a handsaw for a few minutes.

My plan was working brilliantly for the first quarter of the way through the trunk. Then all progress stopped. 

As the minutes ticked by and it was obvious that I wasn't getting anywhere, Zac offered to finish the job and I snapped at him.

By this point, I was Clark Griswold at the end of "Christmas Vacation." This tree was coming down if I had to pull it out of the ground with my sweaty bare hands.

Of course, I gave up from exhaustion eventually and Zac took over. Gentleman that he is, he let me do the last little bit. So I can say in all honesty that I cut half a tree down.

The fun wasn't over yet. As we were walking back to pay and pick up the trees, the sole of the work boots that I was wearing came loose. For some reason, it only came off halfway, so I walked a few steps with it flapping like a flag in a strong wind.

Finally, it came off completely and I was walking lopsided in one normal boot and one that was basically just a thin piece of cloth separating my sock from the ground.

Zac, who isn't always so gentlemanly, was nowhere in sight. He either didn't know about my woes or was pretending that he didn't know me.

In the weeks since, I have put up three trees, acquired an unhealthy amount of red truck Christmas decor, live-streamed a Christmas parade for five minutes with the video appearing upside down, harshly judged our neighbor's outdoor lighting while repressing the urge to start some sort of lights battle with them and bought a truly garish necklace made of lights and garland that I fully intend to wear from sunup to sundown on Dec. 25.

Also, I followed the wrong funeral procession to the cemetery. That doesn't have anything to do with Christmas, but I thought I'd throw it in anyway.

If your Christmas has also looked more like "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" than  "Joy to the World," seasons greetings from our festive nuthouse to yours. 


Jennifer Cohron is the Daily Mountain Eagle's features editor. She can be contacted at or (205) 221-2840.