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Hilliard's Wild Christmas Trees, "Hello", "Snow Angel" and "Happy Christmas" with Bruce Hilliard
Episode 21318th December 2021 • Better Each Day Podcast Radio Show with Bruce Hilliard • Bruce Hilliard
00:00:00 00:29:30

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Hello hello hello and merry Christmas from the corner of Christmas Street and Better Each Day. Come on along and take a walk with me.

You're here just in time for an eggnog and my Christmas 2021 song Hello Hello Hello. It's about being committed to the Christmas fruit cake boom boom room for believing in Santa. “I believe in Santa Claus and giving.” 

Christmas Street can be anywhere, anytime. It doesn’t need to be a street. It can be in a Victorian home or visiting the mother ship. In this story it’s down a gravel logging road near North River. It doesn’t matter where my North River is, just come along for the ride. 

We’re riding with my dad in his veterinary van on a quest for the perfect North River Christmas tree. It’s December 1960 something. I’m about 10 and he’s about 42. It started snowing. The good stuff. The road is getting narrower with more snow and the thought of meeting a fully loaded log truck coming head on sucks even more than the cigarette smoke.

Dad finished his Winston and lit another one as we parked where only the Lewis and Clark Expedition would have dared…somewhere out in the cold wilderness where anyone could easily get carried off by a pack of bandicoots. 

This is one of those areas where people disappear and later reappear as a bat. I made that up. But time seems to be moving at the speed of a parked car.

The 27 mile trek in the snow uphill both ways was just about to begin. The hunt for, not the Home Depot tree or tree farm tree or Bigfoot, but the majestic tree that roams with its herd in the hills of the Pacific Northwest jungles…the aromatic but ever so elusive wild Christmas tree. We walked. The snow was morphing from creamy to crunchy style under my boots.

Somewhere along the way Dad got far enough ahead of me to secretly drop some raisins in the snow along the trail. Why? You ask. It’s the trick where later when we walk by the little SunKist pile together, the funny one who planted the raisins cries out “hey, Santa’s reindeer have been here” as he picks up a handful of raisins and eats them. The unsuspecting recipient says “oh major ew” and hilarity ensues. Always a fav.

After two weeks we ran out of supplies and began eating each other. No we didn’t but that’s probably a better show.

Now, most of the trees in nature don’t look like they’ve been pruned. In fact most of the trees down North River way looked a bit like a Charlie Brown tree. 

The scenery was getting whiter and I spotted an eight point buck not far away…just as Dad went to eat some of the raisins, at least what he thought were raisins. Yep. Once he got his mouth back we spotted what was to be one of the three wild trees required to make one domestic Christmas tree. 

The trick was to take three trees home, cut them into thirds and use the best sections. Each tree was carefully selected by the master himself for high end, mid or bottom. The thirds were attached with dowels. The concept defies any known grafting techniques.

The snow was really coming down as we slid our three donors to the van. It was a Kodak moment ingrained in my mind forever. Even more impressive was Dad’s knot acumen. He could sinch down a load that would make a Peterbilt log truck proud.

Dad was busy tying off the trees, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. It was dusk. A snowy dark December dusk. I watched until I drifted off into a song. A song about a hot snow angel that shows up if you wish hard enough. 

When I woke up I was 66-years-old, thrice divorced and living in a van…

The tree, as I’ve come to find out, once decorated, looked awesome like they always do. The experience is among some of my fondest childhood Christmas stories. 

Special thanks to the co-writer, flautist and vocalist on Snow Angel. She is Victoria Lye and I wish you, Victoria, and your loved ones a Merry Christmas in your home in Munich, Germany.

And a shout out to all the people that make this show possible, my friends: All my incredibly talented guests, my stunt double Graham, Annie, Freya, Pat, Rusty, Rosalie, Carol, Kitty, Mary, Saho, Deano, Eric, The Guy From Another Neighborhood Nobody Knows About and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.

That’s about it for Christmas Street today. And, thanks for coming along.

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!