On a recent visit to see our college-aged son in the North Carolina mountains, half the vehicles on the road were packed with Christmas trees headed home to the Piedmont.
Lots of folks go to the cut-your-own-tree farms. I could imagine those young families traipsing along rippling rows of Fraser fir. Little children sitting atop their father’s shoulders. And afterward, steaming cups of hot cocoa to blast the winter chill.
I’m ashamed to admit this, but I felt jealous of all that merriment.
Like returning to my pre-pregnancy weight, cutting our own Christmas tree is one of those things in life I’ve completely given up on.
My husband and I would likely kill each other wandering among those acres of trees armed with an axe or a chain saw.
Don’t get me wrong. My husband and I have a good marriage. We trust each other implicitly on most all matters except the selection of a Christmas tree.
My husband has a pragmatic approach. He believes the Christmas tree and all associated decor should be acquired, erected and disposed of with as little effort as possible. He has been known to bring home sensible six-and-a-half footers, so slight they slip through the door and into the room without our rearranging a single piece of furniture.
Every few years, he will procure (without my permission) some new-fangled artificial tree, from “very lifelike” to the openly defiant white wire tree.
My trees, on the other hand, are magnificent natural specimens which occupy a generous corner of the room, like a baby grand piano or a full-grown elephant. In addition to a little topping, mine often require a little bottoming as well.
This year, an unsuspecting neighbor invited us to join him in his pickup to get trees at a $25 lot up U.S. 220.
We could hardly wedge our three middle-aged bodies into the narrow bench seat; the first attempt to shut the door hit my husband’s hip with a dull thud. He glared at me, foreshadowing events to come.
The Christmas tree lot was bustling with burly young men lugging trees and starry-eyed young couples whispering over their selection.
Chain saws buzzed as the scent of evergreen and wood pulp permeated the air. Hubby immediately spotted a tree on the front row.
“I like this one,” he said, ready to go within the first two minutes of our arrival.
I would never consider buying the first tree I saw. I made a noncommittal “hmm-mmm” and walked toward the back of the lot where I imagined the freshest trees were.
“You stand by that tree while I have a look around.”
Ten minutes later, I returned, and in what I intended to be a gesture of goodwill, I conceded, “OK, let’s gets that tree you picked out.”
“Well, those people got it. It’s too late,” he said, arms crossed and one eyebrow raised.
I selected another tree.
My husband is no Scrooge. He loves listening to Christmas carols while he watches me decorate the tree. He even offers pointers on adding ribbon or garland here and there and points out spots that could use a little more attention.
Of course, if he had selected the tree, one would hardly need a step stool.
As I placed the final touches on the top of my 8½-foot tree (I did, after all, select it), Bing Crosby crooned “White Christmas” and my husband looked on with an expression of, if not merriment, contentment.
We will probably always argue about the tree. Everyone has their own dreams at Christmastime, and that’s OK.
Susan Boswell is a Greensboro interior designer and creative writer. Read more on her upcoming blog, www.girlfromgoatpastureroad.com.
Personal Adds is an occasional column reflecting on contemporary life. Send submissions to Features Editor Cindy Loman at firstname.lastname@example.org.