The Mandatory ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ Guide to Getting Your Own Tree
You might not know it, but you don’t have to pay ridiculous prices for pre-cut Christmas trees from a dealer in a parking lot in the middle of your city. Also, if you’re the type of person who prefers to cut their own tree down, you don’t have to visit a tree farm with row after row of similarly imperfect trees. According to the US Forest Service, you can actually cut your own tree in a national forest. In fact, there are 88 forests in the US where, with a Forest Service-issued permit, you can cut your own tree down.
If you’re going to venture into a densely wooded forest, you better know what you’re getting into. Lucky for you, we wrote a handy dandy guide designed to help the whole venture go a little more smoothly (or not). It should be noted that since we’ve never cut our own pine trees, we’re not experts and none of our tips will likely help in any way.
Photo: Warner Bros.
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Drive out to the middle of nowhere.
After securing your permit, drive out to the closest of the 88 national forests. If you’re lucky, and you want a real experience, it will be located smack dab in the middle of nowhere. Don’t worry, nobody will “leave you for dead.”
Get completely lost.
Even if you brought a map, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to get hopelessly lost. That’s part of the charm of the whole experience. You’d better hope you have cell reception, though, or a fun jaunt into the woods might end up as a movie of the week.
Make your sister cry.
Making your sister cry is a right of passage when it comes to cutting down your own tree. If you don’t have a sister, make any of your immediate family members cry. Reasons can include (but aren’t limited to) being too cold, bored, annoyed, or just cranky because they never wanted to go in the first place.
Lose all feeling in your limbs.
If the ground is blanketed in snow and your gloves just aren’t cutting it, you might lose all sensation in your hands and feet. Is that such a bad thing? At least now you won’t feel the blistering cold world that you decided to venture into.
Forget to bring a saw.
Make sure you trudge all the way (like way) into the woods only to find the perfect tree and realize that you definitely didn’t bring a saw. Either completely abandon the idea and head to the nearest tree farm or start digging. You might have it out of the ground by spring.
Start an argument with some hillbillies.
Any trip to the middle of nowhere must have at least one negative interaction with locals. Ramp up the situation by flipping them the bird on a busy motorway. That should be enough to bring unwanted attention to yourself.
Get the car stuck in an ice patch.
Nothing says “job well done” like getting your car stuck in a patch of ice (or mud) for what seems like an eternity. You can get out and try to push it, but you’ll just end up getting covered in dirt, gravel, and all kinds of awful things while your car remains jammed in the same spot.
Enjoy your oversized tree.
If by sheer luck you actually get a tree home, you’ll be not-so-delighted to learn that you forgot to measure the height and width of your tree. It’s obviously too big for your home. But, you’ll put it up anyway. Just keep an eye out for any critters stowaways.
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