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Picking out a Christmas tree for this mom and son is a literal race against the clock

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

This week, we're hearing from some of our listeners about their favorite holiday traditions. And this morning, we have a look at some genuinely chaotic preparation. For a mother and son in upstate New York, picking out a Christmas tree is a literal race against the clock. NPR's Rachel Martin has their story.

YURBIL KEVRA: The timer starts once we leave the driveway.

RACHEL MARTIN, BYLINE: Every winter, 25-year-old Yurbil Kevra (ph) and his 64-year-old mother, Anita (ph), climb into their 2006 Honda Element and head to their local cut your own Christmas tree farm.

KEVRA: We park as near to the trees as we are allowed. Usually, we - I mean, it's an illegal parking job (laughter), you know, as near as we can get to the trees.

MARTIN: They hop out, split up and race through the rows of Christmas trees. They call this the Christmas Tree Grand Prix. In order to win, Yurbil and Anita need to select, cut, bag and transport their tree home faster than they did the previous year.

KEVRA: It's like a Formula One pit stop. Everything is very choreographed here.

MARTIN: Their best time?

KEVRA: 14:34, I think, was our quickest.

MARTIN: That's 14 minutes and 34 seconds door to door.

ANITA: It came out of a single motherhood sheer desperation where I get a Christmas tree, and I had a limited amount of time to do it. And so I was like, we've got to cut to the chase. So I invented the Christmas Tree Grand Prix in order to move things along.

MARTIN: Racing runs in their family. They've got several generations of mechanics who developed and raced cars at circuits up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Yurbil says the Christmas Tree Grand Prix helps him continue that tradition in his own way.

KEVRA: I love racing, and I love watching it. But really, only rich kids get to actually have a proper chance in the sport. So I like to do the Christmas Tree Grand Prix, especially to try to reclaim some of that motorsport legacy and heritage and all that.

ANITA: And then we have a celebration afterwards.

MARTIN: Beating their previous record means Yurbil and Anita get to stand on a homemade podium, a five-gallon bucket turned upside down in their backyard.

KEVRA: We'll play the national anthem on our phone. And then we'll play the (vocalizing) and then obviously get sprayed with champagne.

MARTIN: Their path to victory changes each year with new routes to other tree vendors. And they've even considered expanding the race into a multi-stage affair.

KEVRA: We might enjoy adding the extra leg of bringing the tree inside, putting it into the tree stand and watering it as part of that. But, you know, some parts of life are perfectly fine being taken at a slower pace, I think.

(SOUNDBITE OF LONDON FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA PERFORMANCE OF BIZET'S "CARMEN SUITE NO. 1 LES TOREADORS")

MARTÍNEZ: A frenetic holiday tradition, courtesy of NPR's Rachel Martin.

(SOUNDBITE OF LONDON FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA PERFORMANCE OF BIZET'S "CARMEN SUITE NO. 1 LES TOREADORS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.

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