I was raised with the understanding that “Time to trim the Christmas tree!” started with putting said tree together. Our tree was stored in a giant tupperware bin, amidst an array of plush snowmen, Precious Moments nativity scenes, and shiny, red garland. Sure, we didn’t have the joy of picking out a new tree every year, but we did get to control which way the branches curved.
While I have no regrets as to my childhood of straightening out wire branches and attaching them to color coordinated slots on a big ole pole, I have to admit that I was
a little excited ecstatic about the prospect of getting a real tree this year for my apartment. My first real Christmas tree. The smell of pine, the crunch of needles loosed from the branches, the task of watering the tree…I couldn’t wait.
So, on the chosen night, my roommate and I headed out to find our tree. We took the train one stop to a grocery store that had been rumored to have great trees. As we excitedly sifted through the selection, it became clear that not all rumors are true. Trees with strange bald spots and already rotting stumps greeted us at every turn. Just as we were about to give up, we saw it: Standing, half tied up and pushed to the side. It stood a good 5-ft, had strangely bushy and awkwardly-faced branches, and looked like it would last til just past Christmas. Our tree. We nearly jumped in excitement (Okay, I nearly jumped in excitement. My roommate, who is a normal, well-adjusted member of society, just smiled ), paid, and happily began to carry it back to the train.
Which brings us to adventure number 1: Riding the subway with a 5-foot tree in tow.
Surprisingly this was not so much of a milestone as carrying said tree from the subway, up two blocks, down an avenue, and then hauling it up four flights of stairs. As we trudged, we half joked/half prayed-“Wouldn’t it be funny if one the four male friends we live across the street from passed us on the street right now, and then offered, out of the kindness of his heart, to carry our tree for us? Wouldn’t that be just lovely?”
…it would have been. But, after a full ten minutes of hoping, even as we climbed the stairs to our apartment, we victoriously carried the tree into our living room ourselves.
Next came the decorations. After standing up our tree, declaring it every euphemistic name we could think of for slightly awkward (Quirky! Cute! Unique!), we rushed out the door to go raid the various 99-cent stores in our neighborhood. We were met with the discovery that 99-cent stores close at 9 pm. (No, I am not kidding.) After coercing one of the shop owners to let us in, we picked out some lights, bobbles, and a classy light-up star for our tree-topper.
After a couple hours of cutting snowflakes, listening to Christmas music, and drinking hot toddies, our third roommate arrived home, and we haphazardly decorated our little tree. We stood there, practically vibrating from excitement, staring at what had to be the most beautifully-imperfect tree in existence.
Overcome with a need to share this with others, we texted our neighbors a brief “Come over”, with the hopes that their close proximity would mean that they would overlook the fact that it was midnight, and come look at our tree. Sure enough, two did. And with a shot of Jameson, several Santa hats, and Christmas carols underscoring the conversation, we laughed, joked, and celebrated around the tree- my first real Christmas tree.