My memoir, Love’s Journey Home, includes a description of decorating the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. This is how acquiring a tree happened for most of the thirty years we were married:
Christmas always demanded a perfect conifer. In his mind’s eye, Jay (my husband) saw a tree that reached the ceiling, but wasn’t too wide, because it would spread out as the decorations weighed the branches down. And it must cling to its needles for dear life. During Christmases past, finding such a tree entailed visits to farms to cut our own, stopping at roadside stands, or visiting expensive nurseries. We bought a live tree for our second Christmas together, and planted it in the garden of the little house we lived in. Driving past our first home decades later, I saw it towering above the garage we built.
After we moved into the New Hampshire house and began to spend Christmas there every year, we would stop in at Spring Ledge Farm where the trees, newly arrived from Canada, would be leaning nonchalantly against their posts until someone came to claim them. We’d try to go on a sunny day, preferably when there was a little snow on the ground, which ensured we’d begin to feel the Christmas spirit.
It used to take at least an hour to pick a tree, but over the years, since I’m a person whose feet freeze if I’m not moving fast, I’d solved that problem.
We’d begin by finding some trees that were the right height. When we were first married, a seven-foot tree would reach the ceiling; in the lake house, we needed a ten-footer to keep Jay happy. Then we would circle around any we liked the look of. When I found the perfect tree, I kept my find to myself. Jay would call me over to check out a likely specimen.
“Too wide,” I’d say. “How about this one?” I would deliberately pick one with an obvious bald spot on one side. Jay would frown and move on.
“This is a good one,” he’d call.
“But look how thick the trunk is – it won’t fit the stand.”
He was always willing to look at one more tree. After a while, I’d pretend to spot the one I wanted, a few yards away.
“I don’t suppose this one’s any good, is it?” I’d say, and then wait.
Jay would walk up to it, stroll around it, and then call me over.
“This looks like a good one,” he’d say.
I’d pretend to consider.
“If you’re sure, darling. Don’t you think it’s too tall?” The tinge of doubt in my voice ensured he would go for it. Only then would I head inside to get the cup of hot spiced cider I’d earned, and whose cinnamon fragrance had been calling me for a while.
P.S. You can watch the Spring Ledge Farm Christmas video here.