Christmas Trees

The article below was written by Stephen Enzweiler about his many trips to Reminiscent for his tree "Phil" puplished in the Kentucky Enquirer.

 

Our annual search for Christmas tree Phil

by Stephen Enzweiler 
KENTUCKY ENQUIRER 
Posted: December 24, 2012

(This column first appeared in the Kentucky Enquirer newspaper on December 24, 2012.)

It finally stopped raining by the time my wife and I pull into the parking lot of the Reminiscent Herb Garden in Florence on a stormy December afternoon. 

It's a pilgrimage we've been making here every year for more than a decade. On this day we've braved the rain and cold for a singular reason: to buy our annual Christmas tree. 

Reminiscent is a pleasant place, with cozy landscapes of vines, trees, shrubs and attractive stone walkways that run smooth and long in front of the main building. In the middle, a fire burns warm and dry against the wet afternoon. Benches and chairs wait for tired visitors to come and rest. Here we can sit and relax, sipping hot cider, eating Christmas cookies and chatting with owners Dick and Stephanie Jansen. 

Out of the shop's doorway steps Matt Crickmer, a smiling salesman who's worked for Dick and Stephanie for 12 years and who we remember from years past. He greets us with a handshake and takes us out into the grove of Frasier firs. 

There, a hundred or more trees await us, each staked and tagged, standing at attention like silent, faithful soldiers, waiting for someone to take them home. 

To some folks, they might all look pretty much the same. But real Christmas tree aficionados know that each tree has a personality all its own. Perhaps it is the way they stand, or how their branches seem to gesture to us. In many ways, they can appear to be almost like people. 

We walk across the wet grass through the lines of trees, eyeing each one over carefully as we go. But we are not looking for just any tree. On this day, my wife and I are looking for a Christmas tree named “Phil.” 

“Phil” the Christmas tree is a perhaps offbeat family tradition my wife and I established some years ago. It began one Christmas after watching a movie in which a little boy and his father decided to give their Christmas tree that name. Later, as the father carried the tree's dried, brittle carcass out to the curb for pickup, his little boy became distraught that “Phil” was going away. “Don't cry,” the father replied, comforting his son. “Phil will be back again next year.”

The scene seemed to speak to us. It was pure Christmas. Perhaps it was the father's simple effort to comfort his son; or perhaps it was the little boy's childlike faith in Phil's return. For whatever reason, Phil has been coming to our house each December ever since. 

And so we walk through the forest of trees. It doesn't take long before we find what we've come for. “It's perfect,” my wife declares, eyeing one particular tree from top to bottom. 

It's Phil all right. 

Matt plucks him from the stake, carefully carrying him over to the table where he prepares him for the trip home. 

“It's a nice looking tree this year,” he says, picking up his chainsaw. Laying the machine's blade a half inch above the muddy trunk bottom, he brings the saw to life and cuts it clean in a flurry of sawdust. He trims off the lower limbs, then ties up the branches. 

Soon, it's all done and we're ready to go. Matt carries the tree out to our car and places it carefully in the trunk. Then, waving to our friends, we pull out of the parking lot and drive home. Later, amid eggnog and firelight, we'll decorate the tree with light and love and complete its transformation into the Phil we've known for years. 

And we know that next year, long after the dried and brittle carcass of this year's tree has been consigned to the curb, we will again drive out to Reminiscent Herb Garden , where Matt and Dick and Stephanie will be waiting for us. We will walk through a new forest of Frasier firs, and somewhere among them we will find a Christmas tree named 'Phil.' 

Stephen Enzweiler is a community columnist for the Kentucky Enquirer. Check him out on Facebook and at @oxfordcitizense. 

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This column first appeared in the Kentucky Enquirer newspaper on December 24, 2012. Text is © 2012 by Stephen Enzweiler. All Rights Reserved. 

Citation: Enzweiler, Stephen. “In search of Christmas tree ‘Phil.' Kentucky Enquirer, December 24, 2012, sec C, 1.