Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree!!

After a quick cost/benefit analysis, I decided it was a better choice to get a real Christmas tree for the next couple years than an artificial tree.  Immediately around the holidays I'm flitting from one city to the next in an effort to see the family so I decided to get the tree set up early for maximum holiday enjoyment.

When I was growing up, going to cut down the Christmas tree meant a five minute ride and loading the tree in a full-size pickup truck and any required tools available in the garage. I should have known I was getting myself into trouble when the closest Christmas tree farm I could find was 30 minutes away. Nevertheless, Saturday afternoon the Dave and I set out on the Northway in my Toyota Corolla to retrieve my Christmas tree. The drive to Ellm's tree farm was uneventful save the encouraging sight of minivans and SUVs (you know cars with roof racks) carrying their prize evergreens away from the direction we were headed.  Did I mention I have a corolla?  At this point, I was mildly concerned by how we were going to transport this tree to my apartment with reenacting an Allstate Mayhem commercial.  I'm hoping an engineer and a Ph.D. candidate can figure something out.

Committing to the Tree
 The farm was much busier than I was expecting for the first weekend of December.  The tree farm was humming like a well-oiled machine.  Hayrides shuttled tree hunters twenty tree-hunters to and from the lots.  We hopped on the trolley and set-off to find the perfect Fraser fir.  I may have dragged Dave around half of the tree farm to look at every Fraser fir I could find.  Too tall.  Too fat.  Crooked trunk.  Too short.  Not enough branches.  Too many dead needles.  Finally, as the sun was setting, we found THE tree.  Not too tall with plenty of strong branches.  Dave kindly cut it while I was distracted by the golden retriever puppy in the next row.  I did help get the tree over to the trolley stop where the fluffy puppy was trying to trying to kill a stick larger than it.  It was so cute barking and jumping at the stick as it tried to pick it up but it was too big.

The farmhands were great. An assembly line unloaded the trees, shook off the loose needles and leaves, measured, tagged, and baled the trees within minutes of the trolleys arriving.  I was so charmed by being away from Troy and being helped by people in worn Carhartts and Timberlands that I did a double take when the girl had me use a cash register app on an iPad to pay for the tree.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised that enough a rustic looking tree farm is online these days.

Complimentary hot chocolate was part of the tree package and it was chilly.  We decided to put the tree in the car and then go after our refreshments.  Walking to the car I noticed my keys weren't in the pocket I usually stick them in.  I stepped aside to properly dig through my purse when I glanced in the driver-side window and say my lanyard.  Not only had I left my car unlocked...I had left the keys in the ignition.  Good thing we weren't in Troy.  Feeling a little foolish, the next question was how to get the tree home.  Thankfully I erred on the side of short and the baled tree fit inside the car, stretching from boot to gear-shifter but inside.  (It still smells like Christmas tree.)

At my apartment, we needed to shorten the trunk a little bit more.  I don't own a saw.  I did manage to borrow one, a dulling hacksaw.  Not the ideal tool for the job. With a little teamwork and trading off at sawing, we were able to cut through the massive four inch trunk. Dave had the idea to put the tree in the stand before taking it inside.  At least we didn't have to deal with the ceiling for that part.  I cut the baling twine and the tree sprung open.  I also didn't have clippers to trim the top for the star, so we improvised with kitchen shears. Putting on the lights was probably the easiest they will ever be since they came straight out of the box.  Dave and I decorated the tree with ornaments from my childhood to ornaments I made special for this tree.  When we finished, Dave put the star up.  

Finished Product
Adding the Final Touches
I plugged in the lights and we gazed at our handy work for a minute before half of the string of blinking lights stopped blinking.  At that point I didn't care.  Everything was finally on the tree and staying there.  Now, every once in a while, the whole strand will blink for a minute before the one half gives up again.  I'm still so glad we ventured out to get a real tree.  It makes the apartment feel so much more festive and homey.  The technical difficulties just makes the story that much more memorable.

Happy with Our Tree

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