Last minute shopping gone awry

By Matt Reese

It was three days until Christmas. And, though I had no gift for her yet, my wife had dropped less-than-subtle hints that she wanted a new pair of boots for Christmas.

Roger Dush at the Pine Tree Barn in Wayne County.

I have always steered clear of clothing purchases for several reasons. First, I never have any idea what my wife likes. In fact, if I pick the ugliest thing in the store, that is typically what she likes best (it is usually also the most expensive thing in the store). In addition, I never know what size she wears and I hate going to stores.

I was prepared last year, because I asked my sister about my wife’s foot size and I was told it was 7. So, I went to a store just down the street from my office. I walked in and quickly identified ugliest pair of boots. It was the last pair, so they must have been very popular. I cringed as I turned over the price tag, but this pair of boots got even better –“CLEARANCE SALE $29.99.” I was out of the store in no time flat.

I had even impressed myself this time. Ugly boots (hideous in fact) that looked really expensive. My wife would love it and would have no idea what a bargain I had gotten.

I could hardly contain my excitement Christmas morning when my wife opened her gift. She opened the box and her eyes got wide.


This was not the exuberant response I was expecting.

My wife did like the style, but apparently her foot had grown substantially in the last couple of weeks because she informed me that she wore a size 9, not a 7. In addition, this was a Girl’s Size 7, not a Woman’s Size 7 (I was unaware there was a difference). And, to top it all off, this was a pair of slippers, not boots.

To make up for my multi-pronged ineptitude regarding ladies footwear, I promised I would go shopping with my wife to find a pair of boots that she liked and that fit. This resulted in an unending afternoon in multiple lady shoe stores, a price tag more than three times my original purchase and a trip back to the original store to return the wrong size, wrong category, wrong kind of footwear purchase I had made.

With this experience fresh I my mind from last year, I have vowed to resume my tradition of not buying my wife anything she can wear this year.

It is a time of year that oozes tradition – gifts, carols, charity, goodwill, and, at the center of it all, stands the beautiful Christmas tree representing the birth of a very special baby boy more than 2,000 years ago. The Christmas tree tradition has been around for 500 years and still cherished by families today. In northeast Ohio, many of those families go to the spectacular Pine Tree Barn in the rolling countryside of Wayne County.

“I enjoy being able to see those trees growing in the spring and summer and then getting them to a family that is really excited about it. I really enjoy growing the trees, but also the chance to meet the customers and make it a better Christmas for them,” said Roger Dush, owner of the Pine Tree Barn. “We have found that when you start doing things to make the lives of others richer, it makes your own life richer.”

The Pine Tree Barn also features a restaurant and an expansive gift shop that is open all year with a focus on designer furniture. Christmas trees have been growing on the farm since Dush’s father started planting them in 1952. Now the farm sells around 7,000 trees annually, mostly Fraser and Canaan Fir.

“We want our customers to experience nature in a family setting. We encourage people to come out, ride the wagons, cut a tree together, watch it be baled, loaded on the car and take it home. That is a nice experience for people,” Dush said. “All farmers are competing against artificial trees and we need to give the customers a reason to get a real tree. There is really no tradition to a plastic tree.”

Dush is right. You can’t pack up 500 years of tradition into a box and put it in the attic at the end of the season. Like a pair of girls’ slippers for a lady that wants boots, a plastic tree is simply not the real thing.

To find a Christmas tree farm in your area, visit

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