penny in a castle

A digital chapbook.

Oh tannenbaum

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Today I opened the eighteenth door in my advent calendar and found…a Christmas tree.

Each year, we get a real tree to put up in our living room. I have always wanted a real tree over a faux tree.  The only time I did not was when I lived in my various apartments – I know they are a fire hazard but I resented my faux tree.  My mother always insisted having a real one (although she in later years relented.  I think even she got tired of cleaning up pine needles in July) so maybe it’s because it’s what I grew up with.  It’s the closest thing I get to sticking to a tradition.

However, how we acquire our tree changes year after year – depending on how much time we have and how much effort we want to put in.

When we have lots of time we bundle into the car and drive out to a tree farm.  We ride out on a tractor into the fields and walk out into the row upon row of trees and find one we like.  We chop it down and drag it back to the cash.  Often there is a bonfire and hot chocolate or candy canes for the kids.  Often times we get a tree that is too big because it’s hard to judge the size out in the middle of the big grey sky.  The kids love the experience and I think these are the times they remember best.

Other years, we drive up to a local farmers’ market where they have Christmas tree vendors selling their piney wares.  The kids run up and down the rows of trees and I try to keep them from falling or running into the middle of the road. It looks like cold work for the gentlemen who stand around waiting for someone to come and buy a tree.

Once or twice, when desperate and short of time, we have gone up to the local grocery store and picked up a tree.

This year, I wanted to try something new. I had heard that a local hospital that helps people with mental health issues was selling trees to raise money for their programs.  We had a little bit of trouble making our way there as the tree lot was at the back of the hospital. They had loads of trees – in all kinds of sizes and shapes.  My daughter and husband took their duties as tree searchers seriously, while I kept my two sons from being impaled on a branch while they played tag.

In the end we picked out a tree a little bit shorter than six feet.  “I’ll charge you, uh, for five feet,” said the fellow measuring.  “It’s six feet.  It’s for charity. Clearly it is six feet,” I said.  And I handed the man the money.

And so, we took our not quite six foot, but every inch worth it tree back home.  My husband took the binding off it and, in the words of our children “fluffed” it a bit.  Now it’s decorated in that haphazard, unbalanced way that all trees decorated by children are.  It’s one of the best trees we’ve ever had.

I may just go back to the hospital again next year.

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Written by pennyinacastle

December 20, 2014 at 4:17 am

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