Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week Forty-Nine

Event:  Bought a real Christmas tree

Ever since college I have steadily upgraded from one fake Christmas tree to another.  It started out as a 12" tree, then I graduated to a 2' tree, then a 3' tree, then a couple of years ago I bought a fake-but-it-looks-so-real-you-almost-can't-tell 8' tree.  I keep it in the basement completely put together with ribbon and lights, covered with a red, life size plastic bag and a few cob webs.  Each year I clumsily carry it up the stairs into my living room, inevitably knocking over a lamp, a picture frame or the dog.  I've been getting along just fine with my fake it 'til you make it 8 footer, but this year was the year to do something different.  I was craving the ultimate Christmas tree experience.  I want to go to a farm out in the country, I want to walk through a forest of trees, I want to pick my tree, I want to cut it down myself, tie it to my car, bring it home, water it and decorate it while it fills the room with the aroma of pine making me feel like I am starring in Christmas in Connecticut.  (For the record, I've never seen that movie but the title in and of itself just sounds delicious).

As I pondered where I would go to buy my tree, it hit me.  A couple of years ago I dated a guy who owned a Christmas tree farm.  That's right.  I was dating Santa.  But unfortunately, I couldn't see myself playing the role of Mrs. Claus, so we went our separate ways.  As I made the decision to get a real tree, I figured I couldn't go anywhere else.

I talked my sister into coming with me and we grabbed a rope, bundled up and headed out.  It was only after we were halfway there that I realized I didn't have a saw, proper gloves, or mascara.  This was simply going to be a disaster.  As we turned onto the gravel road, I was relieved to see 5 or 6 guys standing around waiting to welcome customers.  This was actually a good news, bad news situation.  The good news - with a handful of people there to help, my chances were greater that someone other than my ex would help us.  The bad news - if I do see him, he'll probably tell all of the other guys what a jerk I was when I broke up with him.  It was at this very moment I questioned why I voluntarily drove out to this location.  Anyway, we parked the car, I put on my sunglasses, (didn't really need them, but again - no mascara), pinched my cheeks to give them some color and we were off.  I had hoped to quietly approach the entrance and in an undercover like manner, scope out where he might be without making our presence known.  That's when I accidentally hit the panic button on my car keys.  Horns blaring, I had to run back to the car, open the door and start the car, only to walk back to a round of applause from the boys.  Oh for the love of Figgy pudding.

As we approached the group, my ex was standing in the middle, so I lowered my sunglasses, pushed my stocking cap up a bit, and said hello.  He recognized me right off the bat, gave out a good laugh, and the small talk began.  Moments later he was assigning a high school kid to help me get my tree.  Whew.  Short and sweet.  Now we're back on track.  I explained to the kid I wanted something in the Fir family because I was told the needles don't shed as much (better for my dog) and the branches are stronger (better for my heavy ornaments).  He suggested a Fraser Fir (funny, I would've spelled it Frasier Fur) and he pointed off into the distance.  They looked beautiful and perfect and only a few feet into the forest, I found 'the one.'  I turned to him and said I was ready to cut it down and that's when he dropped the bomb.  The Fraser Firs...were...already...CUT DOWN!  Devastated, I then saw a sign out of the corner of my eye that read, "Fir Trees from Michigan."  WHAT?  It was all a hoax!  He then explained that some of the fir trees are brought in and placed on stakes in the ground to make them look like they grew there.  I felt like I just got sucker punched.  The Scotch Pines were growing out of the ground, but those trees looked like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree compared to the firs.  At this point, I was too invested to put up a fight, and as I looked at my sister with sad eyes she said, "Give it up.  Just saw a branch off and call it good."  My dreams of cutting down my own tree now crushed, I stooped even lower when I agreed to take a fir that was already removed from the stake, just lying down on the side of the path, like road kill.  Still, I got my way (sort of) when I made the little helper elf go to back to the barn to get an old school saw so I could cut an inch off the trunk.  So there.

As I approached the cashier to pay (clearly not getting a discount from the 'ole ex), I ran the quick numbers in my head.  My tree was 7' tall at $7 a foot, so $49.  Perfect.  When the sweet little old lady behind the cash register said my total was $79 I about fell over.  Oh great.  I misread the damn sign.  The Scotch Pines that are actually growing out of the ground that I could've cut down are $7 a foot, but the road-kill-already-been-cut-down-and-shipped-in-from-another-state-Fraser-Firs are $10 a foot.  This has been neither a joyful nor triumphant experience.

As I drove through town I had visions of the tree flying off into the intersection because I was sure my ex told the boys not to tie it down very well, but lucky for all of us, we made it home safe and sound.  That's when karma reared its ugly head.  As my sister and I attempted to get the tree into the tree stand, the trunk was about an inch too short.  Karma!  Oh of course I just had to cut off an inch to prove a point.  A few f-bombs later, we had to take the tree back outside and cut off branches at the bottom to lengthen the trunk.  Using a little saw that had as much punch as a fingernail file, we managed to remove some of the lower branches to allow for a perfectly snug fit in the tree stand. 

Covered in sap, we admired the slightly leaning to the right $79 investment.  So far the tree hasn't fallen over (I'm knocking on wood as I write this) and I've managed to keep the dog from drinking the tree water by wrapping the tree stand with his own lampshade/cone - brilliant!  Aside from that we've only had one small casualty.  At 3 O'clock in the morning a heavy ornament fell off of one of the branches, crashing onto the floor. 

Glad I got the tree with the stronger branches. 

"Oh tannenbaum, oh tannenbaum..."

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