They have been driving for about forty-five minutes, Alex in the back seat with Tia, the eldest trying to tell the youngest what a tree hunt was. Chris was at the front singing along to Christmas songs, and Robert… well he was very glad that he remembered to put ear plugs in his ears before they left, as much as he loved his son… he didn’t want to hear his off tone singing.
“But if it’s a tree it doesn’t really put up much of a fight… so why hunt it down at all?” Alex asked, his tone may have been serious, but his eyes were dancing with suppressed laughter.
“Alex… it’s only called a hunt.” Tia told him for the fifth time, exasperation was leaking into her voice… he was lucky he was cute or else she would have hit him over the head the third time he asked “We’re not really hunting the tree… just looking through a field to the perfect one, then we cut it down and take it home.”
“You mean we’re going to kill it?” Alex asked in pretend shock.
“It’s a tree.” Tia groaned placing her face in her hands, completely missing the amused look on Alex’s face.
“I think Alex is teasing you Tia.” Chris said looking from the front “Unless you’re really anti-tree hunting, you’re not are you Alex?”
“I’m not anti-tree hunting.” Alex told him “But I didn’t bring any tree hunting gear… like breaches to blend in and make them comfortable, so they don’t see me coming. I’m going to have to settle with telling all the other trees about the awesome and amazing tree in my backyard. Then all of them will want to come home with me and it’ll be the piper of trees! Then you’ll have more than one tree… you’ll have a whole yard of Christmas trees.”
“Now that would be epic.” Chris said as Robert pulled into the gravel car park “But then we’ll have to buy new Christmas decorations. Not that I’m complaining, far from it, Christmas is by far the best holiday.”
“Sorry Chris, but Easter is way better than Christmas.” Tia told her brother “Easter is spring-time, life and colour, while, Christmas is red, green and commercialized.”
“Whatever you say… Scrooge.”
“What’s a scrooge?” Alex asked as they started walking to the barn, which was used as an office and housed the saws.
Both Tia and Chris froze at his question… looking at Alex like he grew three heads and then a toaster.
“You don’t know who the scrooge is?” Chris asked his blue eyes were popping out of his head at the question.
“My middle names Frost, but my first name isn’t Jack nor do I know any one by the name of Jack Frost.”
“Oh… be quite Alex.” Tia laughed, she was laughing at Chris face who continued to stare at Alex… he couldn’t believe that he seen none of the Christmas classics.
Robert shook his head at the three teens who ran into the barn, grapping a random saw –like they did ever year- and ran back out.
“Don’t run with the saw… it’s not like the trees are going to go anywhere if you walk.” Robert shouted as his kids ran out into the field.
“No tree escapes the piper of trees.” Alex yelled, his fist pumping into the air.
Laughing as they spread out searching for the perfect tree for their new home, ever since Lily and Robert got married they went to the same tree farm. The drive here used to take hours, but from the new place it took forty-five minutes, which made the drove here more convenient. It was just one of those family traditions that no one wanted to let go of.
“What about this one?” Alex asked walking around an eight foot tree, full grown, green and larger than he imagined a Christmas tree being.
“You really are the piper of trees.” Tia told the smiling boy, her head poking out of a different row of trees just to the left “That’s the best tree I’ve seen.”
“I know its ginormous.” Alex cheered, happy knowing that he found the perfect tree.
“Alex? Is that you?” Came a voice from behind him.
“Please tell me this isn’t happening.” Alex muttered under his breath before his turned to look at the owner of the voice “Hey Mrs June. I haven’t seen you in years. How are you?”
Mrs June was a large woman wearing red framed glasses; they were so thick that you couldn’t tell where she was looking. She was wearing a dumpy grey dress and waddled like a penguin when she walked; –through she’s not as cute as one- shafting her weight fully from one foot to the other, before repeating the process.
“How are you doing Alex?” Mrs June asked hugging the poor boy, suffocation him in her fold of fat engulfing him completely.
“Mmmmphmmm.” Was all Alex could say before she let him go, which Alex took the opportunity to stand next to Tia and Chris, gasping for air, before she got the idea of hugging him again.
“Mrs June, this is Tia and Chris, and this is their dad Robert.” Alex said, as Robert was walking towards the group “Tia, Chris, Robert this is Mrs June. She was mu second grade teacher.”
“It’s lovely to meet you.” Robert politely said.
“It’s very nice to meet you too.” Mrs June said “Alex was such a pleasure to have in class. Alex how is your mother and father? What have they been up to? They were both such joys to talk to; I can see where you got your charm. I always loved having conversations with them.”
“Well… my mum isn’t terrible busy seeing as she’s passed away.” Alex bluntly stated, he hated this woman and she hated him, so it was only fair “And my dad can’t be doing much seeing as he’s in jail.”
“Oh… Alex; always the joker.” Mrs June trilled, patting Alex on the head “Still with the with the freaky hair and eye colour I see. Well… it was good to see you and give you parents my best.” And with that she waddled off.
“That was strange.” Tia stated, once Mrs June was out of sight.
“She’s never liked me.” Alex shrugged “In fact she hates me, but my mum would make cookies every time there was a conference… it was to bribe her into keeping me in class. I sort of caused a lot of trouble.”
“Imagine that.” Chris teased his little brother, and he has come to see him that way.
“She was ugly anyway.” Tia told him, pissed off at her “Come one… let’s kill this tree.”
“It’s not murder… it’s a sacrifice in the name of holiday joy!” Chris cheerfully declared, spreading the blanket and scooting under the branches to saw down the tree down at the trunk.
It took almost an hour and several turns each before the tree finally separated completely from the ground. The trunk of the tree was so thick that it didn’t fall, but they did flagged down the tree with the help of a buff lumberjack of a worker they were able to load their kill onto a trailer and get it back to the barn. They went inside as the workers shook the tree free of any pine needles than putting a net around it, so they could load it onto the top if the car and take it home. Inside the barn they were given hot chocolate.
“Hello Robert.” An older lady said, her greying hair was hidden under a Santa hat, she was also wearing a Christmas sweater and jeans “Oh you’ve been coming here for what, twenty-two years now?”
“Yup… we started coming here the year you opened Mrs Wilde.” Robert said, shaking her hand.
“It’s Susan to you Robert dear.” Susan said, her pale green eyes looking around the room.
“My goodness look at you two, you’ve grown so much, why I remember when you two were little babies, so cute! And where is your lovely wife? Is Lily home sick?”
“No… she’s with her parents at the moment.” Robert told her.
“And who is this fine young man?” Susan asked when she saw the snowy white hair.
“This is Alex.” Robert said “He’s out son, Alex this is Susan.”
Alex looked at the ground to hide his shy smile, glowing at the fact that Robert called him his son.
“Well it’s very nice too meet you Alex.” Susan said “I hope you enjoy your time here. Have you ever gotten a Christmas tree before?”
“No ma’am.” Alex softly replied “You have a very nice farm.”
“Why thank you. Aren’t you just a sweetheart and Alex it’s Susan okay.” Susan told him, a kind smile on his face.
“Yes… Susan.” Alex shyly said, looking at his feet.
“Robert you’re all set.” An older man said, sticking his head through the door.
“Thank you.” Robert told him, turning to face his children, who were sitting on the couches; Tia and Alex on one, Chris on another. “Why don’t you three head to the car and I’ll pay for the tree and meet you there?”
“Alright.” The three in question chorused leaving through the glass door.
“So did you just adopt Alex?” Susan asked as she totalled the cost of the tree.
“Yea.” Robert said a kind smile slipping onto his face “He’s a bit shy… but a really good kid.”
“He must be. I haven’t seen Tia smile that much for a few years. Are those two going out and when they do… you better tell me young man. Have a nice Christmas.”
“You too… and don’t worry… I will.”
As Robert left, he couldn’t keep the smile of his face as realized that the change in his daughter was apparent to more than Lily and himself. Also it wasn’t just them that picked up Tia’s feelings for Alex or Alex’s feelings for Tia. Will he better tell her when they do go out… he doesn’t want to find out what she’ll do if he doesn’t.