O Christmas Tree


Boys in front of the Christmas tree, 2009

I’ve decided to get a real Christmas tree this year, rather than put up our fake one. I want the boys to experience a real tree at least once and to see what we think about it as a possible tradition.

Getting a real Christmas tree isn’t just about the tree itself but about the tree-acquiring experience.

When their father and I lived in Indiana we had a real tree twice.  There was snow all around up there, so it felt very Christmas-y to go to the Christmas tree farm. The farm had a small shop with ornaments for sale, a fire in the fireplace, and hot cocoa. It just felt like Christmas when you were there.

While I very much enjoyed getting the real tree, getting rid of it after the holidays wasn’t as easy. The trees come all neatly and tightly bundled and thus pretty easy to get in. But once you cut the cord and the branches poof out, it’s a bigger task to get the tree out.

The first year we lived in an upstairs apartment and once we were done with it we threw it over the balcony to the ground below. A friend picked it up and took to his father’s pond.

The next year we were in a house. It was weeks past Christmas, and I decided to take the tree out. I could’ve dragged it out the back door and around the house to the front curb. But doing that in the snow seemed like more than I wanted to do. So I decided to drag it out the front door, which meant I had to take it down a small corridor between the dining room and the front foyer. The dry pine branches and needles were not very gentle to the corridor walls, and the walls were badly scratched. The walls had to eventually be repainted.

That night, I woke up to an extremely hot house. It felt like a sauna. I went to the thermostat, which was in the corridor where I had taken the tree earlier that day, and it was 90+ degrees in the house. I removed the cheap plastic cover and inside where pine needles that had lodged in the shut-off mechanism and weren’t allowing the heater to regulate off and on; it was just running constantly. I removed the needles and turned on the A/C. I also went outside in the 30-degree weather and left the front door wide open to cool me (and the house) down.

It wasn’t funny at the time, but I’m able to laugh at it now.

So no more real trees after that year. We bought a 9-foot after-Christmas clearance special, and that’s been our tree for the last 10 years. It’s starting to show it’s wear, and I should’ve shopped for a replacement after Christmas last year. It’s also such a big hassle to put on all the limbs and fold out each branch.

So far the boys aren’t too thrilled about going to get a real tree. I hope things will be better once we actually get to the farm, pick our tree, watch it be hacked down, bundled up and bring it in our home. Certainly they’ll think the axe they’ll use to cut it will be cool, right? Can I get some coolness points for that at least?

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