The Hendrickson family is pictured a few years ago after another successful Christmas tree hunt on their property. From left are Josh, Wes, Tracy, Jenna, Jessica and Jake. “They all knew by that time,” Jenna said of her parents’ annual Christmas tree prank, but “I didn’t.”

By Jenna Hendrickson


(Polk County)

Every Christmas, my family and I would make a trip over to our land about a mile down the road from our house. Every year, on the land, there was always the perfect Christmas tree. The trees were always in random spots that sometimes a tree couldn’t possibly grow in, and they were never in the same spot from year to year. They also never showed up until it was time for us to find one, even though trees of this size take many years to grow. Great timing, right? But my sister, brothers, and I never thought anything of it and so we would “saw” the tree down, toss it in the back of our truck, and haul it back home. We did this every Christmas, until last year, when my parents told me something that would change this tradition forever.

My dad always liked to joke around when we were searching. He’s been using some of the same jokes since my brothers were little. But this year was especially cheesy and over the top. I didn’t think anything of it though, because it was normal for the occasion.

We drove around a tree line and there it was. A bright green, perfectly sized balsam fir next to a group of old, dead trees.

“That one!” I exclaimed.

“Where? What one? I don’t see anything. That big one over there?” my dad said jokingly while pointing to the huge, old tree he points to every year that he says he wants to cut the top off of.

“Haven’t heard that before,” I said, rolling my eyes.

Eventually, he admitted to seeing the tree and stopped. But, of course, he made sure to drive past it and back up for dramatic effect. We hopped out and walked up to it.

“I don’t know how you do it, kid. Every year you always find a great one,” my dad said to me.

“I am getting pretty good,” I said sarcastically.

My dad then walked back to the truck to grab a saw. He brought it over, sawed for a little bit, and then, without even trying hard, he tipped it over and yelled, “Timber! Stand back!” I mentioned he liked to be dramatic, right? We picked up the tree and set it in the truck.

“Yep, this’ll do. Hey, look, it even already has a hole in the bottom for the tree stand. That’s impressive. How did you manage to do that?” he asked me.


“Look, there’s a hole in the trunk.” he said. I walked over to look, and sure enough, there was the hole he told me about. At this point I was a little confused. I may not have processed that trees couldn’t grow in weird places, but I at least knew that they don’t already have holes drilled in them for people’s tree stands. I looked at both of my parents and asked why there was a hole, and that only made them smile. They then went on to tell me that they’ve been buying Christmas trees and sticking them in the ground or leaning them up against other trees at our land every year since my brothers were little. Might I remind you that my brothers are now 25. I was 14 and had fully believed that these perfect trees were just sprouting up every single year, even though they take a tad bit more than a year to grow. Not to mention, they also always had the holes already drilled in them, but somehow, I never realized. Rightfully so, I told my mom and dad that they had ruined my childhood and that it was filled with lies.

Thinking back now, I laugh at myself for believing it all and not second-guessing any of the details. It makes sense why my dad was always the one to finish “cutting” the tree, why he always made sure to grab the trunk, and why his jokes were so cheesy.

Even though I joked about them “ruining” my childhood, I can’t deny that I would love to do something like this with my kids in the future.