Thursday, December 15, 2011

My name is Sarah and I'm a tree nerd.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, we went to get our Christmas tree. This little treasure hunt is something I always look forward to. I remember as a child, running around tree lots as my parents went from tree to tree. I loved the smell of pine that promised a month of excitement and anticipation, culminating in the best Christmas ever. I didn't even know fake trees existed until I was well into my teens. And I pegged them for lazy people or people who couldn't pick out a good-looking REAL tree. We always had to be a Noble. None of this Douglas stuff. This doctrine was ingrained from the time I was little, thanks to my dad and my grandma.

So when Joel and I were to celebrate our first Christmas and I said, "Let's go look at trees!" Joel kind of furrowed his brow and asked, "A real one? Why wouldn't we just buy a fake one?" I staggered backward, clutching my heart. We had discussed all topics before getting married: children; discipline; cuisine preferences; goals; etc. But it hadn't even occurred to me to discuss CHRISTMAS TREES. The horror.

Joel almost had a coronary when he saw how expensive a tree was at a tree lot. Luckily, Home Depot carries a ton of trees for the more budget-conscious. Happily, we headed back to our apartment and set it up. Since then, Joel has been a believer, scoffing at the idea of a fake tree.

Last year, in a rare departure, we went with a Fraser fir. The look very similar to Nobles, with even shorter needles but seemingly sturdier branches. It was a bit darker green, as well. It was a beautiful tree, but the day after we got it home, we discovered its biggest downfall: it didn't smell. This is a dealbreaker, in my mind. Oh yes, we still enjoyed how aesthetically pleasing it was, but we both nodded in agreement that we preferred the old reliable Noble.

So THIS year, we headed out to our trusty Home Depot, equipped with shears (to cut away any netting), gloves, and a can-do attitude. I had called ahead to see when their shipment had come in, gave them 12 hours to get the trees out, and patted myself on the back. Once there, we waded past the Douglas and Fraser trees and began to survey the Nobles. Usually, we go for a 6-7' tree. Joel kept looking wistfully at the 8-9' tree section until I asked, "You want a bigger tree?" He shrugged, "Well. We have a 2-story living room. It can certainly handle it." Ok then.

It didn't take us long to find a huge, wonderful, fabulous-smelling tree (not like the 2 or 3-night ordeal/celebration it sometimes can be). We dragged it over to get its clean cut and I told the guy we were going to go inside to get some lights and we'd be right back. He shrugged, because he couldn't care less. We walked away, in search of LED lights.

Ten minutes later, we return to see a tree cut and bagged, waiting to be paid for. I look at it, and think, "Huh, that looks a little smaller than I remembered." The checker points to it and says, "Here's your tree."

Confused, I look over at the guy doing clean-cuts and see there's a tree back by him that looks like ours. Then I look back at the bagged tree. "This is ours?" I ask. "Because it looks a little...smaller."

There's a couple standing nearby, looking like they wish they were anywhere else. I ask them if they were waiting for a tree. Yes, they were.

Me: Is this one your tree?

Them (looking from the bagged tree to the tree by clean-cut dude and shrug): We dunno.

Me: Huh. big was your tree?

Them (another shrug): We don't know. We...just picked one.

Me: Hmm. Ok, so I don't mean to be all crazy, but I'm kind of specific about a tree. you think you got an 8-footer?

Them (familiar shrug): We don't know. We just picked a tree. We don't really care.

Me: Ack. Ok, so...let's look at the tag on the tree, because maybe that will have the height.

(I try to roll the tree over to check the underside and the tree no longer had a tag on it. I keep looking from the bagged tree to the other tree, wondering how uptight I appear, and wondering if I really care. Then I notice the bagged tree has long-ish needles.)

Me: Oh! Did you get a Douglas? Because I think this is a Douglas. And we got a Noble. Totally different.

Them (blank looks on their faces): We don't know. We just picked.a.tree.

(I'm thinking, "Who ARE you people? How can you not care? Do you hate Christmas?!?!" I'm also remembering the Christmas my Grandma, aka Lady Christmas, was recovering from a stroke and how my Grandpa, in an effort to make a nice surprise, went out and bought a tree *cue ominous music* ON HIS OWN. Every time my Grandma walked past the living room and saw it there - and it was pretty wretched - she would just grimace and shake her head, at a loss for words - both literally and figuratively. I am not even exaggerating when I say that thing was sitting on the side of the road for garbage pick-up Christmas afternoon. She couldn't get that tree out of the house fast enough. This memory has me dreading the unknown bagged tree. Using all the mystery-solving skills I've amassed over years of watching "Murder, She Wrote," "CSI" and "House," I try one final last-ditch effort.)

Me:, do you know WHERE you got your tree? Because that would tell me what kind of tree you got.

Them (shrugging and pointing to the DOUGLAS FIRS): Over there somewhere.

Me (triumphant): Oh PHEW! Ok, so you got a Douglas. And this is your tree. Mystery solved! Oh thank goodness. Sorry about that...I'm pretty particular about my trees. I'm...

Apathetic man: a tree nerd?

Me: Uh...yeah.

I can only imagine how they talked later about the crazy person at Home Depot and how sorry they were for her husband to be married to someone like that. But you know what, the joke's on them because a) Joel is also very particular about trees, though he lacks my crime-solving expertise, and b) I don't care. Obviously you can't trust tree idiots.

Can you imagine what I would have done if we had gotten it home to discover its inferiority? Ugh. Tragedy averted! It's kind of a Christmas miracle.


Sarah Burgoyne said...

There are so many reasons why I love you Sarah Hill and this is one of them. I still don't understand why anyone would want a fake tree, when it comes to trees its not a time to think about saving money. Don't calculate how many years it will take for a fake tree to pay for its self! Maybe its the Maine girl in me :) I will always be grateful for your Home Depot tip. Our first year here we got a spider infested tree from Kings Soopers. I have to admit I was a bit surprised you let your tree leave your sight :) Last but not least Noble all the way!!

Alice said...

Yes we always get a Noble too, but not a busy one, one with big branches that come out and you can see the trunk...but Jared never goes for year.

Nataluscious said...

I really think this blog should have been written from the perspective of how weird the couple was that had NO earthly clue about the tree they chose. They are the weird ones to me. Of course you should care! It's only one of the most (ok, one of at least a thousand most) important decisions you make at Christmas! Of course you should be a nerd about it. What else would you be? Tree idiots make me sad. Bah humbug to them.

Annie said...

You. Make. Me. Happy.