COLUMBUS _ It was time for that annual trek into the spruces to claim a Christmas tree. We pulled on boots, gloves, hats, donned our coats and launched out the door.
``Make it a skinny one,'' said Hon as the storm door shut behind me.
``Make it a skinny one,'' I repeated to the troops.
``I always go for a skinny one,'' said Uncle Chet.
``You're a dog,'' said his niece, holding the bow saw at a dangerous angle.
``Woof woof,'' he said, and on we marched, single file, following Buddy, the 7-year-old scout who knew every tree in these parts.
The snow was nearly a foot deep, fluffy on top, crunchy halfway down. Buddy's boots went only partway down and he glided forward easily. His sister's boots poked through every third or fourth step, frustrating her, and Uncle Chet and I plodded forward like noisy elephants.
``Glad we're not going to Kalamazoo,'' he said.
``So much for global warming,'' I said.
``It'll never last,'' he said. ``But it's nice to see a little real winter.''
``Actually, I love winter,'' I said, ``whenever I don't have to go out.''
"Can't beat it when the stove's cooking and wood box is full,'' he said.
We walked for a while in the crisp morning air until Buddy called out, ``I found one!'' As we pulled up, he was standing before the tallest tree in the stand, a behemoth, anchoring one side of a clearing.
``Way too big,'' said his big sister.
``She's right,'' I said. ``That's probably 25 feet tall.''
``We can cut it, Dad,'' he said.
``The top is nice,'' the 10th-grader reconsidered.
``If it's not a Christmas tree now, never will be,'' said Uncle Chet.
``Are you kidding me?'' I asked.