We got our tree this weekend. Normally I usually like to wait another week or so, at least until the days are in the double digits. But then again, normally we also leave our tree up until early to mid January. This year, however, it looks like we'll be on the road pretty much the entire month of January, so the tree will have to come down shortly after Christmas. It's bad enough I've got my poor mom taking care of the cats, their litter boxes, and the plant on the front porch when we're both out of town. I don't need to be adding the care of a slowly fading pine tree in the living room to her list.
Saturday morning we drove to the tree farm here in town (or rather, on the outskirts of town), prepared for the hunt with jackets and gloves. There was a long line of cars pulling into the parking lot as we arrived, and even more people already milling around the entrance, dutifully listening to an elf-hat-wearing employee explain the dos and don'ts of Christmas tree hunting. We bypassed that, choosing simply to grab one of the long-handled saws, and headed off down the road toward the section that holds the trees we like the best.
Most of the farm is dedicated to one type of tree – the Monterey Pine. I'm sure this does it for some people, but I am most certainly not a fan. The majority of trees this place grows are the type that are so bushy and thick that the ornaments end up not so much hung on the branches as draped on the outside. I grew up with a sparser sort of tree for Christmas, with enough space between branches that ornaments can be hung both outside and in. So for this tree farm, we know that we'll always want either an Incense Cedar, or a Redwood. I think we may have looked at every single tree in both sections that the farm had to offer. There were an awful lot of nice trees, but they were mostly one-sided – only one half full and bushy and the other half sparse or no branches at all. Finally we narrowed the search down to two. The first was an odd little tree, with the branches in a wild array of directions. It wasn't so much tree-shaped as large and green. It had personality. It had definite Charlie Brown tree potential. And I think it would have come home with us if not for the fact that at the last minute we saw another one we liked even better – no such a full tree, but well-rounded and shaped a bit more like what one expects from a Christmas tree.
Richard cut it down and we managed to get it to fit (mostly) in the trunk of my car to get it home. Then we dragged out the tree stand and a few hours later, the tree was decorated – lights, ornaments, the works – complete with musical accompaniment from the stereo, and the smell of mulling cider wafting through the room. Then we sipped the cider while filling out the first huge batch of Christmas cards, and I followed that by wrapping all the presents we've already purchase and stashing them under the tree.
We're certainly not ready for the main event yet, even though we've already managed to procure most of the presents (and the rest either are coming in the latest order placed through my favorite place to shop online), or must be purchased directly at the store). Richard still needs to hang all the lights (assuming we can figure out where we put the box we stashed them all in last year) and write up the Christmas letter (since he's so good at both those tasks – far better than me). And I haven't even begun to ponder the extent of the baking I'm going to do this year.
But right now the living room smells of pine. There is a poinsettia in the middle of the dining room table, and garlands on the mantel above the fireplace and a book of Christmas carols on the piano. And there's a beautiful tree full of tiny colored lights in our front window to greet us when we come home. For now, we're as ready as we can be.
Once again I am taking part in Holidailies, and have thus made the commitment to try to post every day this month. You can find guaranteed reading material from all of us participating at the Holidailies portal.