21/52: First Tree

A tree as big as our car.

Each week for a year, I’m going to be designing a shirt and releasing it on my Threadless store. This is the design for week 21.


When my wife and I first got married, we lived in a little duplex in downtown Columbia. Christmas came and we needed to get a tree. I’d never had an artificial tree and was dead set against anything but a real tree. 

We went to a little Christmas tree lot on Garners Ferry not too far from home and picked out the perfect tree. Perfect, except for the fact that we still had to get it home. 

You see, we had two small cars, and this Christmas tree wasn’t fitting in either of them. The guy at the tree lot didn’t seem concerned. “Happens all the time.” So he broke out some twine and scissors and tied it to the roof of our Blue Ford Focus.

The sight was so ridiculous, that I drew a picture of it for our first Christmas card as a married couple. The tree tied onto the top of our Ford Focus was almost as big as the car. We got back to the duplex and discovered that the tree was too tall and it didn’t fit in the tree stand we had purchased. I had to go to the store to buy a saw to cut part of the bottom off.*

Once we got the tree up and decorated, it looked awesome. But the process… that was an adventure.

Eventually, I overcame my dislike of fake trees and now I don’t have to strap a tree to the top of my car, but Liz and I laugh about that first Christmas tree every year. 

Once we got the tree up and decorated, it looked awesome. But the process… that was an adventure.

So for my first Christmas shirt for this year, I wanted to draw something that reminded me of our first Christmas together. I switched the car from a Blue Ford Focus — who wants a shirt with that car on it — to an old VW Rabbit. This was one of my first sketches that I completed when I started working on this project in the summer. I’ve been excited about this shirt idea for months.

Yesterday, I saw a similar shirt design floating around Facebook and I was kind of bummed that someone else had the same idea. But then I remembered the words of the attendant at the tree lot. “Happens all the time.” Most people probably do have a memory of strapping a too-big tree on top of a too-small car.

First Tree is available on my Threadless store.

Shirts make great Christmas gifts. And I’m offering a 20% off promotion on all my shirts through the end of 2017. It should save you a few bucks per shirt. And Threadless is offering free shipping on orders over $40 through December 15 – just use the code "CHEER10cc62."

* Also, that’s the Christmas we learned that taking the tree to the recycling place after Christmas is much tougher than bringing it home.

Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. He's currently in the middle of a project to design a new shirt a week for an entire year. Follow Bob on TwitterInstagram and Micro.Blog.