Choosing a Christmas tree isn’t always the simplest decision of the holiday season, but the Lions Club of Acton, Massachusetts works to make it a little easier. The Acton Lions operate a Christmas tree and wreath sale every December, and Lions Club tree salesin nearly forty years of the fundraiser, they’ve seen it all: frantic families, Santa cosplayers, and trees driven off the lot in every conceivable vehicle. It seems like once the Lions open the sale, no effort is too great for Acton residents to bring a tree home.

Buying a real tree, of course, starts with the decision to buy a real tree, and for some families, the perfect tree takes some wrangling. Bickering does happen in the lot. “We’re not marriage counselors,” stresses Lion Brian Flood. The Acton Lions have seen their fair share of holiday squabbles, and they aren’t immune to it themselves. Lion Dean Charter, who organizes the tree sale, recalls, “One of our Lions asked to borrow my truck so he could bring a tree home. The next day, he asked to borrow it to bring the tree back. I asked what was wrong, and he said, ‘Well, I guess my wife wanted to pick one out herself.’”

The 40-year tradition of buying an Acton Lions tree always brings people back, even if they don’t have the best vehicle for theLions Club xmas tree sales job. “We had a woman with a Porsche convertible come up, and we put [the tree] right in the front seat of her car,” says Flood. Once Christmas magic takes hold, only a New Brunswick balsam tree will do, no matter how it they have to get it home. “Somebody always shows up in a convertible,” says Charter. “They have expensive cars, and they don’t care if they get pitch and needles all over.”

The Acton Lions love to make that tradition a memorable experience every year. A great location on a busy commercial road helps, as do their generous weekend hours. Local school band musicians are invited to play, and it’s not uncommon to see Santa hats and other holiday costumes. Flood is quick to point out one of the lot’s greatest amenities, the Dunkin Donuts across the street, a welcome comfort for any Bay Stater. The tree lot is a community meeting place, says Charter. “People love to hang out, drinking coffee and chatting. It’s a bonding experience.”

The tree sale also helps the Lions give back to Acton in a big way. Charter estimates that after expenses the sale brings in around US$20,000 a year. “We ordered 700 trees this year,” he says, a number that even Santa would have trouble fitting in his sack. The tree income funds Acton food pantries, sports leagues, college scholarships, and even a training program for service dogs. “It’s amazing how much good the Lions can do,” says Charter. “Where there’s a need, there’s a Lion.” A tree may only last the season, but that spirit lasts the entire year.