A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beth Underwood: Christmas decorating isn’t for the faint of heart, but ‘tree-mergency’ house calls help

It was about 6:30 p.m. on Sunday night when the tree specialist arrived at our house to diagnose the Christmas tree. Yes, you read that correctly. Our Christmas tree received a house call.

The fate of our fir had been teetering on the brink for almost 24 hours at that point, and now, our moment of reckoning was at hand.

Looking back, something seemed a bit off as soon as we brought it into the house Saturday afternoon, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Sensing that maybe I just needed to dig in and decorate, I did just that, adorning it with 1,000 twinkling lights before enlisting Colton’s help with the ornaments. And when I finally stepped back, the tree looked stunning if I do say so myself.

Although it seemed to be leaning ever so slightly. Or maybe it was just me.

Except that it wasn’t. And moments later, O Tannenbaum took a sideways tumble into the bookcases. Make no mistake: Christmas decorating isn’t for the meek or the timid.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about the panic and mayhem that ensued, or the rapid pace at which all those ornaments and 1,000 twinkling lights came off the tree.

The real story, however, wasn’t the predicament we faced (the tree’s trunk had two cracks). The real story is the solution.

In full disclosure, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I reached out to the shop that next morning. I will tell you, though, that I was prepared to pay for a new tree. I wouldn’t have been happy about it, but I was prepared to do it. Because who can be held liable for cracks in a Christmas tree trunk?

Then again, this is Hillenmeyer Christmas Shop we’re talking about—the same place that has a full stock of hot apple cider, candy canes, and marshmallows for roasting right next to the outdoor fireplace. The same place that’s home to a live Nativity.

This is the same place — in fact, the only place I know of — where the real Santa can be found (south of the North Pole, of course).

So instead of purchasing a replacement tree, I left with the assurance that the tree would be remedied to our satisfaction, one way or another by the day’s end. Which brings us to the house call. Because that’s what happens when one provides exemplary customer service.

It probably goes without saying that the tree has returned to its rightful place in the family room, and each of the 1,000 lights are once again twinkling, thanks to the fine folks at Hillenmeyer.

The whole incident, forever more known as “The Tale of the Tree Trunk, 2017”, wasn’t really about a tree, though. It’s a well-timed reminder that how we treat anyone is how we treat everyone. Even when it means making a house call on a Christmas tree at 6:30 p.m. on a Sunday night.

If you’re in the central Kentucky area, visit Hillenmeyer’s website for location, hours of operation, Santa’s schedule, and everything you need to create a heartwarming holiday experience. You can also check them out on their Facebook Page.

A Christmas Cheer Challenge: We all know businesses and individuals who pride themselves on providing the best possible experience for their customers. Let’s show them some love! Pick one business (or several if you’re feeling adventurous!). Drop them a note in the mail, give them a call, or stop by and say thank you in person. Let them know they’re doing things right! One more thing: Be sure to leave a comment below to let me know you’re in!

Beth Underwood is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. She shares stories of everyday life that entertain, inspire, and encourage others. Her books include Gravity, a narrative nonfiction account of a small group of Tennessee National Guardsmen, and Talk Bourbon to Me, a lighthearted look at Kentucky’s native spirit. Drop her a line at beth@bethwrightunderwood.com, or visit her website at bethwrightunderwood.com.

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  1. Kathy Day says:

    Was the tree specialist Lincoln Day?

  2. Beth says:

    Yes it certainly was. 🙂

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