By New Times
By Robrt L. Pela
By Lauren Saria and Heather Hoch
By Deborah Sussman
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Eric Schaefer
By Heather Hoch
Jane may not know about sugar, but she's still a font of Christmas tree information: Most people buy trees around December 10, and nearly every tree sold today comes from a tree farm, not the forest. It takes six or seven years to grow an eight-foot Douglas fir, and about three years longer for a good noble. Your tree will last longer if you shut any nearby heater vents and draperies; and, no matter how dried-out it gets, no Christmas tree will ever burst into flames. "Trees don't spontaneously combust," she sighs. "A dried-out tree that catches fire will mostly smolder. Unless you douse it with gasoline first."
When I confess that I can't tell a pine from a fir, Jane invites me -- for the fifth time -- to work one of her lots. I give in and, several hours later, I'm impersonating a tree salesman. That is, until one shopper threatens to place a pox on my family if I don't sell her the 20-foot inflatable Santa guarding the lot entrance. Unequipped with the warmth and charm displayed by every other Mitchell employee, I sneak off the lot and head for my car. As I'm leaving, I hear someone say, "It's always so merry here," and the sound of Jane's hoarse laughter, pealing like a Christmas bell.