KEVIN TATE: Christmas tree stand hunting always a great challenge

By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer

My wife and I are embarking upon the 13th holiday season of our marriage this week, and the saga of our first few Christmas trees reads like a British comedy skit. The first tree we put up … fell over on the floor. The second tree we put up … also fell over on the floor. The third tree we put up … fell over on the floor and set off the burglar alarm. The fourth tree we put up … fell over on the floor, broke in half and set off the burglar alarm. Then, finally, I found the solution. Thank goodness.
If you were to trade places with the Devil and spend a short eternity creating a single device to crack the family foundation and rend asunder domestic tranquility during the time expected to be the most harmonious and joyful of each calendar year, you could hardly do better than the typical live Christmas tree stand.
Take four thumb screws from the dungeons of Henry VIII, repurpose the aluminum from not more than three normal-sized beer cans, attach that to four tinfoil legs no more than two of which may be the same length, then set all of the above astride a sieve with some of the holes plugged up and you have the basic piece. Paint it red and green to be festive, price it not less than the cost of another tree and you’re there.
We love having a live and, admittedly, very large tree, love the way it makes the house smell and love the way it looks, but we were on the verge of throwing up our hands until I found Grinnen’s Last Stand on the internet. I’m not much on endorsing products, other than the Thermacell, but this guy’s tree stand is worth making an exception. At about $60 including shipping, the product is pricey for a tree holder but cheaper than marriage counseling – and, many years after I first made its acquaintance, it remains the best present I’ve ever bought for myself.
The stand is made in Pennsylvania out of actual metal by a guy who, previously, built stuff for a living. I really don’t know how a pedigree could get any stronger than that.
Instead of thumb screws or any such similar nonsense, it impales the end of the tree on a spike and attaches at a second point several inches above by way of a ratchet strap, sort of a reverse of the method used to attach a lock-on tree stand for hunting. The four legs form a base about 30 inches square and the tree is watered by way of a separate tub. All in all, it just plain works.
Check out the stand and the guy’s story at xmas911.com. Christmas is about making memories, true, but there are some memories you’d probably rather not make.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.