Archive for Nostalgia

Christmas Trees

Posted in Reflections with tags , on December 11, 2009 by Verge

When I finally lived on my own, years ago, I inherited all the furniture, dishes and silverware, and knick knacks from my family.  Sure, my parents bought things they couldn’t kick down, but most of it, destined to be abused by a college-age kid anyway, was second hand items from my parents younger days, or the college wares of my older brother and sister.

I still have most of those things.  In fact, our current house is a pretty stylistically disastrous mish mash of furniture and decorations from vastly different genres and eras.

When I was finally out on my own, I got to start making decisions for myself.   When it came to food, I started to realize I really didn’t like supporting the meat industry.  And when it came to Religion, I started to realize that I didn’t really like supporting the Catholic Church.  I didn’t give up on faith, but organized religion rubbed me the wrong way.

But, I’m certainly completely guilty of celebrating the season of Christmas.  I love it because it has so many great memories and moments I will never forget.  So, I still decorate and set up a Christmas Tree because that is what my family has always done.  Back when I was in college, my older brother had moved into his first place, and upgraded his tree.  I inherited his little 6 foot artificial tree.  I’ve been decorating that tree with the ornaments my parents had bought me every year since my first Christmas.

I did a pretty good job making that little abomination look good.  And, it’s always the thought that counts.  Now that Monika and I have our own place, I finally decided that we should upgrade to a better tree, especially since we have way more room and ceiling clearance in our house.  Now, when I was young, my parent always had a real tree, not the perfectly manured, straight-out-of-Macy’s tree they have now (which, no doubt, is beautiful and picture perfect).

Real trees are not as easy as the fake ones.  You have to water them.  You have to pick up damn needles for four weeks.  You’ve gotta throw it away at the proper time so that they actually pick it up.  And, you have to make sure the damn things doesn’t catch on fire and burn your house down.  When it came to buying a new tree for our new home, there was no decision to be made–we HAD to get a real tree!

So, now it’s the third year we’ve had to set up a tree at this house.  I think it’s partially awful that so many people buy cut trees for Christmas and then just throw them out in January.  Only partially, because tree farms grow trees specifically for Christmas, the same way sod farms grow grass for front lawns and plant farms grow annuals for our flower beds each year.  It’s not as if some lumberjack is going out into the great forest of Blue Spruce and clear cutting Christmas trees each year, evicting countless numbers of animals and destroying the ecosystem.

Nevertheless, it still rubs me the wrong way and I always thought it was a much better idea to buy a live tree with a root ball instead of a freshly chopped tree.  I’m not much of a romantic, but it did seem quite quaint to enjoy a tree through Christmas and then, in January, plant it in my yard while my wife stood by in her hat and mittens, looking forward to the day when we could point and say, “that one was from Christmas 2009.”

It’s not as easy as it should be to find a balled tree.  But, I did find a place that’s close, and usually pretty cheap, and also a local enough business that I feel good supporting.  I dropped by on my way home to scope out the prices for the plantable trees, just so I knew what I was getting into.

Now, of course I knew that it was going to be more money that a regular tree.  After all, the time it take someone to chop a tree is exactly 5 seconds, and the time it takes someone to ball a tree, even with a machine, is considerably more.  And then, there is the materials, and labor.  So, I can certainly understand why they would me more expensive.

They last two years we got our chopped trees form a local market.  They have a huge selection, are family owned, are nice people, and they only charge $25 per tree.  That’s for any damn one in the whole place.  That includes them trimming it to size, and bagging and loading the damn thing.  The prices on the live trees were way more than I expected.  The Charlie Brown size tree (I’m not kidding) was $115 and the kind of tree that I wanted, to match the size and fullness of what we’re accustomed to, was $165-$185.

Decision made.  Definitely not a real, live, plantable, environmentally ideal tree.  We just can’t afford that, future nostalgia or not.   So, this year, like the last two, we’ll be back in that parking lot, under the pale glow of an overhead spotlight, under the crisp cold of the onset of Winter, choosing our 30 day housemate.  In the end, that’s pretty romantic, too.  I’ll still remember that moment just as well as any other.  Sometimes we can’t “buy” everything we’d like for the Holidays, but, it’s never been about that.  Memories don’t have a price tag.

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