In Which I Buy My Very First Christmas Tree For $19.99

Just before dark on a brisk Monday afternoon, I heard the careful pattern of Pop’s shoes on the stairs.  I looked up to watch his approach.  He was wearing a jacket.

“That sale ends today, doesn’t it?” he asked me.  “Where is the nearest Lowe’s?  We’d better take my van before it gets dark.”

So we did.

The always helpful sales staff got us right where we needed to go:

The Christmas Tree Aisle.

I have a confession to make: in all my two and a half decades, I have never in my life picked out a live Christmas tree.  That is the honest truth.  All of my fond childhood holiday memories revolve around a dusty old cardboard box stored in the top of my brother’s closet.  Flat green boughs pushed and prodded to life, multi colored plastic bands sorted and arranged, a cold metal pole slowly transformed into a worn, tired, beeeautiful artificial tree.  It was just one small way our family ‘went green’ and saved a (tree) life every year.  

Last year, in honor of Tim and my very first Christmas together…we had no tree.  That’s right.  I completely dropped the ball on decorating and pretty much doused any form of holiday spirit that even tried to show its face around these parts.  Of course, we were moving and repainting and living out of boxes and traveling alot, which might have partially explained my mad Christmas-spirit-shunning skills.

THIS year, on Thanksgiving Day, while comfortably seated on Pop’s couch (he hosted one last big hurrah at his place before his massive relocation to our house) drowning in Black Friday sales papers, I casually brought up the tree topic:

“So, Pop, how do you feel about an artificial tree?” 

He was quiet for a long moment.

“Well,” he said finally, “I always get a real one…but it’s time for me to get used to some changes, isn’t it?”

He meant what he said and sealed it with a brave smile, but I knew he was thinking about more than just a silly old Christmas tree.  It’s taken him months to prepare himself mentally for this move and all the loss of the way of an 86 year long life it entails.

Tim and I talked about it later and realized that although there are some of his past habits and traditions we can’t accommodate, this is not one of them. 

So we scoured the ads for the best sale, banished our silvicultural stewardship reservations to a dark corner, and broke the news to our grandfather.

I can’t say he was thrilled, delighted, and jubilant…but I think he was pleased–as evidenced by that careful Monday rhythm of shoe to wooden stair. 

Side by side in the Lowe’s Garden Center, we analyzed our options.  Back and forth in the fading light we weighed each tree’s merits.  Back and forth, back and forth.  Needle quality, overall shape, fullness, smell, taste, temperature, age, width of trunk rings…we checked it all. 

Either that, or Pop walked right up to the first one he came to, gave it the once over with his experienced eye, and motioned for a sales assistant.  

Either way, we picked a beauty if I do say so myself.

Out to the car we went, tree in tow, and managed to fasten it to the top of the van.

Once we’d gotten our tree nice and snug and comfortably situated, we brought her home.  I don’t think I ever fully understood exactly how new mothers feel until I brought that baby into my very own garage and propped her up against the freezer. 

“That’s all for today,” said Pop.  “We’ll trim up the base and set up the stand in the morning.”

So that’s exactly what we did.

  1. #1 by Angela Starosta on December 2, 2010 - 12:54 pm

    It’s so weird to me that you always thought of a fake tree as green. I guess if you keep one for a long time it is, but in my fam people get new ones after about 5yrs. Thats not exactly green.

    • #2 by Cristy on December 2, 2010 - 1:52 pm

      haha…we had the same one from before I was born until the summer I graduated college….and I think my parents bought it used. :-b

  2. #3 by Anna C on December 2, 2010 - 1:55 pm

    It looks so good Cristy! Where did y’all move the music box to?
    We always had real ones growing up (until recent years) but given that I can’t keep the cat away from our tree, I need something easy to pick back up again and clean up from so we’re going with our little artificial one again.
    Angela- I’ve known people who used the same artificial tree for 20+ years:)

    • #4 by Cristy on December 2, 2010 - 2:11 pm

      Well, at the moment, the music box is residing in the middle of the den. AAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! What am I going to do with all this furniture?!?! 🙂

  3. #5 by Betty on December 2, 2010 - 2:27 pm

    Just to set the record straight…… We bought the tree new but it was on an after Christmas sale! People in this part of the country don’t understand how precious trees are in the semi- desert West and how hard it is to cut a perfectly healty tree for those of us who were used to fighting to get trees to grow. Seeing all the trees in the woods and all the tree farms in the eastern US, we understand the tradition of live trees better. Your tree looks wonderful, Cristy.

    • #6 by Angela Starosta on December 2, 2010 - 2:58 pm

      Betty, we live 10 miles from the nearest Gas Station and 25 from the nearest grocery store, but there are 3 Christmas Tree Farms in an 8 mile radius of my house. I guess i can’t imagine what thats like. My cuz in Fla was telling me how she has to get a live tree Thanksgiving weekend or they’ll be all gone. Last year they ended up with one that had been spray painted.

  4. #7 by JenniferS on December 2, 2010 - 6:21 pm

    Hahaha! I can’t say I understand the “new mother” feeling yet myself, but i’m pretty sure it’s a little different than the fresh christmas tree feeling! 😉 (And hopefully the baby won’t have to stay propped up in the garage until it’s feeding time!)

    Glad it was fun, though – we need to get out and find our own tree!

  5. #8 by DancesWithHippos on December 2, 2010 - 10:38 pm

    I read this 2 times.. and both times i ended up in tears 😦 *sigh* change sucks.. and memories make me cry.. rather the be good or bad.. no matter. they bring tears to my eyes =( but seriosuly we’ve only ever had real tress – they are the smell of Christmas.. after all in Jesus’ time the only trees they had were real 🙂

    • #9 by Cristy on December 3, 2010 - 8:33 am

      You HAVE to come see our tree soon! I think you’ll recognize all the ornaments except one. 😀

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