Thursday, December 3, 2009

Oh Tannenbaum!


When Big Daddy and I were first married, we went to look for our first Christmas tree together. It was early December, a crisp, starry night. Ok, it was butt freezing cold. None the less, we visited several tree lots, wandered among the firs and pines wondering how big a tree should be, what color, if it should be bushy or branchy, and why it cost nearly as much to buy a tree as it did to make our house payment.

We ended up with a lovely, 6 foot, lush, green Noble Fir. We tied it to the roof of our car just as big fat flakes were starting to fall. And as we drove home, I felt like this was a scene from a movie. A romantic comedy. All except for the fact that, in the end, we ended up digging through a pile of discount trees in the Albertson's loading zone to find it.

Every year thereafter we spent an evening in early December wandering hand and hand through tree lots lined with colorful lights, searching for the perfect tree, and then heading to Albertsons to dig around under the florescents. I loved our fresh Christmas trees. The piney smell. The soft needles. The sap in my hair from trying to get the tree into the holder at the bottom. Ah, good times.

However, after about our 4th or 5th year of this, I began to notice the down sides of having a real tree. First of all, it's expensive. Secondly, it doesn't hold up ornaments that well with its soft, droopy branches. Thirdly, watering it is a pain. You get all scraped up crawling on your belly, trying to reach the water reservoir, and half your hair ends up hanging permanently from the bottom branches. Then it dies anyway, and by Christmas day it's hard, crisp, brittle, shedding everywhere, and begging for one tiny match to get lit within a 10 foot radius so it can burst into flames and burn your house down. After Christmas, it sits in front of your house shedding all the rest of its needles until the city decides to pick it up in late February.

So two years ago we bought a fake tree. I almost cried at the prospect. In fact, I might have pitched a fit or two when Big Daddy suggested it. But money was tight, so we headed to Target mid-December to see what we could find. What we found was that most of the trees were long gone. And the ones that were left were mostly hideous. White flocked trees, bright Kelly green trees, plastic trees, and pint sized trees were all that remained on the shelves. But there on the platforms amongst the other display trees was a real beauty. Just the right shade of green, kind of sage-y like a real tree. It had pine cones here and there. Really, you almost couldn't tell it was fake. It was tallish, about 7 1/2 feet. The branches were strong. It was even marked on sale, 30% off $199. But, of course, it was sold out.

And then we got lucky. When we asked an employee to check the back for us, she informed us that we could take the display model if we wanted. There was no box, but we could probably get a further discount because of that. So we grabbed two of the biggest rubbermade boxes you've ever seen from the containers aisle, disassembled our gorgeous fake tree, and headed up front.

This is where the real Christmas miracle took place. Our new sap-free, no-shed tree was marked down to $37.50. Thank you, Santa! Or Jesus. Or whoever.

So now each year, I haul up two coffin-sized boxes from the basement, plug in the pre-lit sections, pop them together, and voila, 8 minutes after I started I have a gorgeous, almost-as-good-as-real tree.

I even get to keep my hair in tact.

Don't tell the Christmas gods, but it's totally worth it. Totally.

18 comments:

Kristina P. said...

We always had a real tree when I was growing up. ALways. And I always swore we would too.

Until it became MY house and MY money. I had a friend who was getting a tree from her mom, so she gave me her old one, which is really nice. It's been great!

Soul-Fusion said...

I haven't had a tree real or fake in several years because the logistics in NYC are ridiculous (think sad, depressing scene in When Harry Met Sally). Yet this year I am very, very tempted because it has been a long time since I had all those brittle needles and a long time since I had the tree guy bundle my tree up and show me where to stick my hand so I can carry it home (that's right CARRY IT HOME!).

alex dumas said...

I totally agree. And you can get that piney smell from a good candle.

Jaime Haney aka ArtsyFartsy.Me said...

Love this story. So true about the money, sap and the needles and hair and Feb. pick up! haha. I think we have the same tree but you got a far more better deal. I also love the candle idea, thanks Alex!

But have you noticed the crazy static that you get from this tree?! I can't stand near it for pictures or my hair stands on end grasping for the branches. Or I get a nice big POP! from the static shock. oh well. still better than picking out dried needles from your foot.

L. said...

VERY funny article! Arianne, you get better all the time! And I LOVE your tree. It really does look real.

But I have yet to find a candle, can of spray, cologne, or incense that really smells like pine. I LOVE that smell beyond anything! Jennie had a car-freshener that smelled real way back in Wilsonville. I've been buying and opening car-fresheners by the score ever since, and can't find THAT particular one! RATS! You would think the fake-smell makers could have gotten it right during the last 50 years, wouldn't you?

MiaKatia said...

Fake tree for us too, but mostly because we have traveled every Christmas since we have been married. I don't want to risk a dried out Christmas tree waiting to burn our house down when we are too far away to do anything about it. Putting it out before Christmas would be a big huge invitation to thieves.

Sara said...

Worth every penny and then some!

André said...

I would love to buy a fake tree and have had my eye on a few, but Jen and Mason like picking them out and I don't want to spoil it for them. I figure in another 15 years when Brighton has outgrown his family I can go for the plastic and fiberoptic tree.

The pine smell is all I really care about on a real tree, but before Christmas has arrived, the smell is more damp and moldy than you remember and you have a bazillion dry pine needles sticking in your feet to remind you of the true meaning of Christmas.

rae said...

Holla' at the fake tree! HOLLA!

rychelle said...

luckily, my grandpa cuts a tree from his property every year and family members bring it to us during the NFR.

i'll be sad when we have to go faux.

Plain Jame said...

I'm working on my tree post right now. I wanted to find a picture of our first tree though. Cute story!

jennie w. said...

I so miss living in oregon when we'd drive down the street and find a place to chop them down.

Every year Mister says he wants to get a real one--due to his lumberjack blood and all. But we spent so much money on our fake one that we just can't do it.

Tom Bailey said...

And on top of that it saves a tree every year. I had a fake tree when they were not very popular and people would make fun because my tree is really quick to put up too.

If you want the smell now they sell tree sent stuff that I use.

Thanks for sharing.

Vanessa said...

But have you ever actually cut it yourself? That would be me, the last few years. I think this year is the last however. It's too big of a pain.

I'm on the prowl for a cheap 9 footer the day after Christmas.

Shawn said...

I still love to cut down our tree every year---we've always done that and it is one of our traditions---so, I probably won't ever go for the fake one---but you go, girl----glad you are enjoying it!

Chelsea said...

We bought a really good artificial tree during the after-Christmas sales a few years ago, got it for a steal. But I still just have to go get a real one. It doesn't make sense. It's a compulsion. So now we get a real tree that is set up in the family room and we set up the fake one in the living room.

M-Cat said...

What a steal! Well done! We used to do real trees too, and then several years gave up and went fake. I now need a NEW fake!

tiburon said...

I am so with you! I love me a real tree - but they are a lot of work.

My fakity faker is looking good :)