Punching the Clock: O, Tannenbaum

Linus van Pelt said it best: ďI never thought it was such a bad little tree. Itís not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.Ē

Itís the famed line from ďA Charlie Brown ChristmasĒ that looped over and over in my head before taking up my temporary day job at the nameless tree stand on the corner of River Road and East Main Street in Norwich. For approximately five weeks of the year, the normally vacant lot near the corner is transformed into a Christmas tree wonderland with pines shipped to Chenango County from as far south as Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Tree salesman Frank Lananna runs the stand. Itís a long day that calls for long hours, he said. He manages the stand on a daily basis after working his regular job on a dairy farm in Oxford and more often than not, Lananna keeps lights on as late as 8:30 p.m., well after the end of the regular work day.

I reported for work on a Friday afternoon, just as a customer drove off the lot with one hand on the wheel, the other frantically grasping the branches of a seven-foot pine tree strapped to the roof of his car. A cold December rain was averting customers, said Lananna, who just sold his fifth tree of the day. It was a relatively slow day in what would otherwise be one of the most taxing times of the season.

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