There are so many New York stories each one of them precious. Let’s thank the NYTimes for bringing this one to our attention: the story of the Christmas Tree man who comes from far away to sell trees in the Upper West side in New York.
He’s not a native new Yorker, he comes from Canada and he leaves behind his wife and children when he makes his yearly trip. He sleeps in his Chevy van the whole time he is here, parked close to his Broadway and 102nd street Christmas Tree stand, from November through to December 24th.
His name is Francois and he’s become a permanent year-end fixture in the neighborhood being nurtured by and in his turn serving the people who live close to his tree stand.
Two parents with kids at nearby P.S. 166, Jon Reiner and Brad Rothschild decided to make a film about Francois’s yearly trek to their neighborhood and the NYC Christmas tree selling sub culture and in a trice everyone pitched in. Other parents from the school donated their expertise and time and in double quick time the documentary was made,
Now ‘Tree Man’ is finished and is doing the rounds of film festivals and has just premiered in NYC. It’s being well received, see the video for a clip from the documentary.
“It goes without saying that Francois’s tree selling would be made immensely difficult without the support he receives from the neighborhood. One of the locals lets him use her shower, a local paint merchant lets him use an electricity hookup to light up his tree stand and others bring him food to eat. He regularly employs 2 young lcoal lads who return year after year to help him.
And Francois is happy, outgoing and helpful and is beloved by his customers some of whom still buy from him even though they have moved away. What makes the story of Francois memorable is how is a part of a strong local community network even though he’s only visiting for 2 months of the year.
It’s a very heartwarming Christmas story that is a tribute to the storng community spirit which New Yorkers cosntantly demonstrate. It’s this community spirit that is an antidote to the pressures of livng in a huge city, a central part of what it means to live meaningfully in New York.