L’Arbre de Noel: The Bigger, the… Cheaper?

Posted on December 18, 2012


By Lauriate Roly

We didn’t always have much money but I know we always had a Christmas tree. The years when cash was scarce, my mother would wait until Christmas Eve to shop for one because at that late date, she could always create a bargain for one of the trees that were left rejected on the lot because they weren’t prime specimens to begin with, and most buyers wouldn’t want them. My mother eventually passed this precious chore on to me. She wasn’t physically able to continue the exercise because it didn’t end with just buying the tree; together, she and I would have to lug it home, then up three flights of stairs.

One year, walking to school, I noticed as I passed the lot where the trees were lined up for sale, there was the most beautiful tree I had ever seen. The shape was perfect. I realized that the high price of seven dollars was because the tree was enormous. The biggest one in the lot. Whoever bought that tree would have to be rich.


That year was a “scarce money” year for us. The most we could afford was fifty cents.  So on Christmas Eve I set out to parlay my two quarters into a trade for the best tree I could salvage. To my amazement, the beautiful giant tree was still there, but not standing with the remaining sad looking excuses for Christmas trees. It was lying on the ground, looking a little roughed-up and slightly disheveled as if it had been handled often, and rather harshly. The tree man told me people looked at it but nobody wanted it. It was too big and it cost too much.

discarded tree 2

A light bulb over my head was suddenly switched on.  If I played my cards right, maybe I could get this tree for even less than the fifty cents that was already burning a hole in my pocket.   I sympathized with the man for being stuck with a tree that no one would buy.   “No one” –   I sadly emphasized his lament.  I further sparked his interest when I said what a shame it was to be left with such a big tree, that he would sadly have to cart away and dispose of.  He fully appreciated how understanding I was of his sad situation… unless he might consider letting me take it off his hands for say…twenty five cents?

“You know me;  my mom and I buy a tree from you every year and twenty five cents is all we can ever afford.”  Okay kid, give me a quarter and take the tree, it’s yours.

Well, I was just big enough and strong enough to drag that monster tree for half a mile up Berri street, during a heavy, snow-stormy night, all by myself.  Luckily, on the way,  I met up with a half-drunk neighbor who helped me get it up the three flights of stairs. We had to cut about three feet off the trunk to fit it into the room, but my mother used the extra boughs to fashion other pretty decorations around mirrors and pictures that hung on the wall.

Everyone visiting us that year acknowledged that our tree wasn’t only the best tree on the block; it was the biggest one ever to come to the neighborhood.

That all made for another nice Christmas.


Born in Montreal, Lauriate is bilingual; his mother a Geordie from Newcastle on Tyne, his father a French Canadian Quebecer. Lauriate has traveled widely and has lived in Europe. His involvements are primarily of a creative nature focused on Music, Graphic and Literary Arts in the communications fields of Advertising and phases of the Entertainment business through television and film production.