Monday, December 13, 2010

The Perfect Tree in the World

This December, so far, has not been great. Because of the recent move, we're far from all the familiar holiday things, our church, our friends, our traditional haunts and celebrations. In addition, Middle Child's recovery from surgery has been slow and difficult, complete with scary moments and feelings (for the mom) of helplessness and inadequacy. Christmas is now only 12 days away, and I'm not ready.

So, this past weekend, we decided to get a tree. We could have gone to Home Depot, or Lowes, or a grocery store, but I'm the romantic type, so I decided to find a "cut your own" lot. We've had a great time, in the past, cutting our own tree, or pumpkin, or picking our own strawberries, so I thought it'd be a good way to go ahead and kickstart this holiday season into gear. I did a little bit of internet research, and found one where you choose your own tree (from their pesticide free, organically grown-whatever that means- Virginia pines) and they cut it down for you. Win win! All the romance with none of the hack sawing! What could be better? We planned to go on Saturday.

Saturday was rainy and grey, and very cold. Not ideal weather for a tree hunt. The website said they were only there on Saturday, except that the first weekend they'd be there on Sunday if the weather was bad on Saturday. I called, to see if that was an every weekend policy, and the man told me he was planning to spend the night at the farm on Saturday and would be there until Sunday at 10:30am, if we wanted to come in the morning.

This was good news, except for the whole church issue. We are trying to find a church, and have thus far been unsuccessful in our efforts, but still, we go every Sunday, to an 11:00 service, and we absolutely did not want to miss any Sundays in Advent. The Man and I discussed this, and discussed MC's medication schedule, and decided that we would get up early, hit the tree farm before church, pick up MC's prescription (that wouldn't be ready until some time after 10), drop it and the tree off at the house, then head for church. This would be perfect, I could already picture in my mind's eye, with Small skipping merrily through the rows of perfect trees, dressed in her beautiful Sunday dress and coat.

We are incurable optimists.

Why did we think that, in a town still unfamiliar to us, we were going to be able to navigate all ends of it successfully on a snowy morning, in time to make it to church?

We started out late, as is our custom, and headed down the highway. Unfortunately, we missed a very valuable part of the directions, and did not realize that there was a point at which we'd be forced to choose between going East or West on another highway before we reached our destination. As we needed to head neither East nor West, but rather North, we were flummoxed, and chose incorrectly. I was on the phone with my sister, who has lived here for years, and she was telling me how to get back on track, when the Man decided he'd found an alternate route, and we'd just take that. (Insert foreboding music here.) Despite my sister's predictions of doom, we headed off, and for about 10 minutes it seemed to be going really well. After that, though, the road that was supposed to take us all the way to our destination suddenly dead-ended. Downtown. Tree farms are not downtown.

I pulled out the map again, and found the way back to where my sister had been pointing us in the first place. Told the Man which exit to take, but as luck would have it, I got distracted by a text from our cell phone company, informing me that they'd taken a double payment from our bank account, and while I was distracted by that, he missed the exit. I looked up to see the next exit approaching, and we made another u-turn.

To our credit, we did not lose our cheerful outlook. We found the road, and were zipping along, Celine Dion caterwauling some overdone holiday tune, Small One asking weird questions from the back seat, ("Why she doesn't sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?" "Why only one reindeer liked Rudolph?"), snow falling more and more heavily... and we passed the farm. It doesn't look like a tree farm, you see, it looks like a long driveway up a hill, with a grove of trees to one side of it. On this particular day, it also featured a man sitting in a truck waiting for some losers who had told him they'd be there a long time before. Two more u-turns, and we finally made it.

And there were the Virginia pines. We didn't know this at the time, but we don't like Virginia pines. We are city dwellers, the kind of people who are inordinately proud when their basil doesn't die, or they can identify a rhododendron. We don't know a schefflera from a pittosporum, nor did we, before Sunday, know a Frazier fir from a Virginia pine. Here's a quick lesson for the rest of you:

Frazier firs

Virginia Pines

Note, Virginia pines do NOT look like Christmas trees, at least in our definition of the word. But at that point, we were running late, we'd made the nice man sit in his truck for an hour, and we were NOT leaving without a tree.

Things you should know about the tree farm man. 1)He is very nice. 2)He is a little frenetic. 3)He could be Alan Arkin's voice twin. Seriously. He looks a little bit like him too, but I'm telling you, if you ever want to do a fake Little Miss Sunshine voiceover, let me know, I'll give you this guy's number, because he is a ringer. We'll call him "Fake Alan Arkin" from here on out.

We get out of the car, it's freezing, it's snowing, and the Man has a look on his face that says "wait, these aren't Christmas trees", so Fake Alan Arkin starts virtually tapdancing around him, giving the Virginia pine spiel. I can only imagine he gets that look a lot, because he had several points ready, such as "these trees smell great" (true) and "Frazier firs aren't native to Tennessee, so these are the seedlings the state gives me." (Did not know that.) We wandered around, FAA went back to sit in his truck, and the Man and Small One each picked out a tree. Small's pick was only about 2 feet taller than she is, and looked pretty much like Charlie Brown's tree (I think Charlie Brown's tree WAS a Virginia pine, in fact), but her second choice was the one her dad found. FAA got out of the truck and chopped it down with a chainsaw (nothing like the sound of a chainsaw to create warm holiday memories) and asked us how long we actually wanted it to be.

The Man estimated that we have nine foot ceilings. For future reference, we don't. We probably have eight foot ceilings, but we did, in fact, come home with at least a nine foot tree. Strapping it to the roof proved to be an arduous task, and one for which Fake Alan Arkin did not want ANY help. He scurried around the minivan like a mad man, looping twine here and there, shooing the Man back into the car every time he got out to help, shouting over the wind that he was SURE it would stay on. By the time he was done, the tree was tied on, but not really to the roof- fully 1/3 of it was hanging off the back. Miraculously, it DID stay on, through the long drive down the highway, Because seriously, we were out of time for any other pursuits. I texted MC and told her to drink the rest of the medicine in the bottle (relax, it was only about 1/6th of a normal dose, but I figured there'd also be a kick from the placebo affect of drinking the whole bottle) and hang tight.

We eventually made it to a little less than half the church service, and Middle Child lived long enough for us to make it home with the new prescription, but as we were driving away from the tree farm, dashing through the snow in our beat up minivan, Small exclaimed from the back seat, "I'm so excited that we got to pick the perfect Christmas tree in the WORLD!"

So here it is, folks, the perfect Christmas tree in the world:

I think my prayer for the rest of the season will be to see it all through the eyes of a child.

1 comment:

Harriet said...

Small One nailed it, and I think the rest of us do, too, now. Thanks, Amy, once again, for your gift of words and for sharing them with us.