By Christine Keeling
Bigger is better with 24-foot ceilings. Frank and Paula Dietz’s Christmas tree isn’t the widest one they’ve ever had, but it is the tallest, and getting it home was part of the fun, they said.
Paula said she was worried about the branches banging off the pavement as they drove on the bumpy roads of New Springfield home from the Fodor Tree Farm in Poland, where they paid $50 for the tree.
Her husband, however, found the trip funny.
“It looked silly,” said Frank. The pickup truck had an “8-foot bed with an 18-foot tree in it.”
He captured the magnitude of the tree by photographing an 8-foot step ladder next to the 18-foot one he used to decorate the top.
“She won’t go up that high,” Frank said.
He said it took an hour to do his part of adorning the massive holiday icon. Paula said it took her two days to finish the task.
Their uncle, Ed Vitikas of Ellsworth, was impressed by the couple’s second tree.
Frank loads a 4-foot tree into a boat and paddles out several hundred feet to place it on a platform he built in the middle of a lake in his yard. Its lights glow off the water from November until Easter and gives the illusion of two trees.
“It’s kind of an engineering marvel to get it out there and put it on a timer,” said Vitikas. “And it lights up every night.”
The work is worth it because the Dietz’s grandchildren, Maddie Martin, 11, and Kayla and Sarah Forsyth, 5 and 6 respectively, enjoy the results, the couple said.
The Dietzes, throughout their 11 years of marriage in their home, have purchased large trees. One of them was fresh in their minds.
Four years ago, a rather fat tree they had standing in their great room fell, when no one was home.
Ornaments crashed and broke against the hardwood floors.
“I cried,” said Paula, who purchases an ornament each year for her husband and son, Chris. “I was thinking, ‘Are you kidding me?’”
A bigger tree stand sits below this year’s tree and it’s anchored to the wall, like the others that followed the holiday mishap.
And while Paula said talk occasionally turns to buying an artificial tree, because big trees are hard to find, Frank looks at it differently.
“It’s too much fun, Paula,” he said to his wife. “We fight and get angry trying to get it through the door.”
He said the experience is something they enjoy and is what the holiday is all about.