You almost certainly have snakes in your Christmas tree. Sorry.

Type "Christmas snake" into Google Images. It's fantastic

GateHouse — There are things that are OK, and there are things that are Not OK, and there are things that are Super Not OK, and there are things that are So Not OK That They Make You Slap Your Face And Run To Your Momma, and that is what brings us to the headline “Two Families Find Live Snakes Hiding In Christmas Trees.”

If you needed any more evidence that it’s just wiser to buy a plastic, Taiwanese factory-produced tree at Lowe’s, slap it in a stand and be done in time for the Steelers game, may I present you with the notion that your fancypants Real Tree You Mightily Chopped Down In A Field With The Help Of A Bearded Woodsman Named Fjurg The Sweaty probably contains snakes.

Christmas trees, according to everyone, are the second least-favorable places you can find a snake, the first being, say it with me, the toilet. This is my fourth-greatest fear in life, snakes in the toilet, directly behind clowns, the Fox Business Channel and having my picture taken while scuba diving in the ocean but then having the photographer start gesturing wildly and flailing around because there’s a whale swimming up behind me. That scene in “Finding Nemo” where the whale fades into view and eats the neurotic fish and Ellen? YEAH, WORST FEAR OF LIFE. Most of my more acute fears in life end up in Pixar movies. Weirdest thing.

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Anyway, this past week snakes were discovered in the trees of a families in North Carolina and Idaho. The former, one lovely North Carolina evening, went to shut their tree’s lights off and found a corn snake dangling off a branch, which is deeply not OK for the following reasons:

  1. The tree came to their house with a snake in it.
  2. The family decorated the tree without knowing the snake was in it.
  3. The snake didn’t notice that it was being decorated around, meaning that it’s a dumb snake, which makes it MORE DANGEROUS. Even if it was a corn snake, which are, um, apparently nonvenomous, docile and popular as pets. That’s what “Science” tells you anyway, and Science has never been less popular than it is right now, so you can believe whoever you want, Facts Gathered By Years of Study And Observation or me, some guy on the Internet telling you that corn snakes are basically like the basilisk from the end of the second “Harry Potter” movie except they’re 40 times as big, have human organs dripping from their teeth, curse in German and they eat all of your pets, even the fish. Actually I only have fish so that’s about as bad as things could get, pet-missing-wise, and I don’t even know how many fish I have come to think of it. I should check that.

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So let’s just throw it out there: What do you do if you find a snake in your tree? You squeal like Glenn Beck, flee the house, call Animal Control, wait for Animal Control to call one of those squinty-eyed 65-year-old chain-smoking animal-relocation specialists who don’t have an office and only accept payment in tobacco and rifle parts, have them remove the snake, then take the tree out back, light it on fire and move to another state, right? RIGHT. Good answer. Yet THIS IS NOT WHAT THESE PEOPLE DID. These people KEPT THE SNAKE. These people MADE THE SNAKE THEIR PET. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND YOU, NORTH CAROLINA.

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Related, sort of

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Meanwhile in Idaho, a family bought a Snake Tree from a horticulturalist named  Crickett Rudd, which is either the best name of any horticulturist in the history of horticulture (Sept. 1975-current), or the best fake name anyone has furnished to a reporter in Idaho all year. Crickett told the local TV station that “sometimes on rare occasions little critters and animals can get inside the wrapped Christmas trees, during the delivery process to try to stay warm,” AND HE SAID IT JUST LIKE THAT, LIKE IT’S JUST PART OF THE JOB.

Like you know how sometimes if you’re a bartender you may have to pick up an extra shift, or if you’re a doctor you have to stay late to finish charts? Right, if you’re a horticulturist in Idaho YOU MAY SELL TREES WITH SNAKES IN THEM. This is the only industry in which occasional snake infestation is something that can be made to sound not only like that big of a deal, but sort of adorable. Insurance premiums for those guys must be a nightmare.

Anyway, if you’re at home wondering, “But Jeff, how can I be sure there are no snakes in my Christmas tree right now?” the short answer is: you can’t. There’s almost certainly a snake in your tree, right now, laying eggs in your nutcrackers while you sleep. And if there are no snakes, there are definitely some venomous spiders, or maybe a smallish bear. So yeah, it’s too late, but next year Rudd recommends vigorously sweeping the tree to shake out anything that has taken up residence in there. I’d do that right now but I’m afraid a whale would fall out.

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About Jeff Vrabel

Writer for GQ, Time, Men's Health, Billboard, Paste, Nickelodeon's NickMom, the official Bruce Springsteen site and The South Magazine. I'm also a syndicated humor columnist in "newspapers" and a father of two (the younger of whom has been personally approved by Springsteen). View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

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