We missed getting a live tree last year, and I wasn't sure we would do it this time, but we did. This year, a trip to our favorite tree vendor, who sends us a discount coupon every year, was fruitful. We were greeted in the lot by a guy who was clearly a casual hire, probably from the Salvation Army, toothless, but full of energy and more customer service-oriented than anyone in Bangalore.
"What are you looking for?"
"A six-foot Noble." (Like Song Il-Guk as Jumong, Muhyul or Yum Moon.)
"Follow me. ... here's one," he said, stripping off the plastic net, propping up the heavy tree for our consideration.
"Beautiful, we'll take it."
The Wizard went off with the coupon to pay for it, leaving me with the casual hire to bounce it free of needles (with a curious vibrator that shook all the loose shit out...I wanted to sit on it, that six-foot Noble) and package it up to take to the roof of our car. He looked at me, "Are you sure this is the one?"
This very hard-working guy then told me he just had a woman come in who made him take 18
(eighteen) trees out of the Matson** container, unwrap them, display them...and she didn't like any of them. And then she left.
"We like this one, it's just fine. I hope this makes up for that," I
said. He took it to the car, the Wizard tipped him well (fresh trees are really heavy) and now we have a truly lovely tree, still waiting for decor, but perfect.
All of which made me recall tree selections of the past:
---going to a "lot" at night near my grandmother's house, strung with lights (kinda like a used car lot) with my father, who in my memory resembles Gregory Peck in "To Kill A Mockingbird," (at right) when I was as tall as maybe his mid-thigh, stomping around in the snow. The tree had to be short enough to fit on the "platform" (wrapped in brick-printed crepe paper) for the American Flyer train and village under it (wish I still had that).
---finding a little tree on December 23, just after our Solstice wedding, also from a snowy lot, decorated with tacky glass ball ornaments from Woolworth's that I still use, (they are on their way to becoming antiques) and a paper-cut snowflake made by my aesthetics professor who said at our wedding that I looked like a snowflake; the tree sat on top of a blond '50s era B&W TV-set, a hand-me-down from the in-laws.
---cutting our own tree on a snowy Pennsylvania hillside, celebrating with champagne many things, particularly 100K miles on the Honda station wagon, a recent birthday, an upcoming anniversary, and the fact that we didn't get caught because we cut down someone else's tree, marked with a tag earlier in the season. My perpetual apologies, we never saw the tag until the tree was felled.
--driving around in the Idaho wilderness with a permit to cut anything we could find. Mulled wine and friendship and a poorly wildly shaped but very fresh tree made that holiday memorable.
--waiting for an hour or so with a few other desperate last minute folks like us, for a tree to be trucked in from Makaha: "They didn't sell well out there."
The Christmas tree is indeed a sacrificial thing. I get very upset with indiscriminate tree slaughter. I have ambivalent feelings about the Christmas tree industry. But at the same time, I remember all those trees of the past, their aroma, the bedecked glory, and...now it's time to put on the lights.
**I am not an employee of Matson, but I love the company's logotype. I don't know if it is intentional, but the "T" looks like an anchor. Perfect for a marine shipping company.