This week's Advent is Peace.
It's a tradition, right? The annual trek to get the beloved Christmas tree which will illuminate the corner of the family room for a few weeks and where all of those piles of presents will beckon us from underneath. It fills our nostrils with its piney scent and, if we're lucky, won't dry out and stab our socks with those suddenly insanely pointy pine needles (appropriately named), before The Big Day arrives. Ahh... the hallowed Christmas tree. There's even a song about it.
So here's our story.
We make our plan the day after Thanksgiving on when just the right time is to go get our tree because, well, tradition. But first we have the same old discussion to make some very important decisions.
Let's see... if we go this weekend it won't last until Christmas. So let's plan for next weekend, how 'bout? Saturday it is.
Do we want to go cut one down, since we live on several mountains, like we did last year or go to one of the *two* lots? They're both fund raisers, you know. Remember last year's tree? It was so little it fit on top of our table! Oh yeah... it was more like a treetop than a whole tree. It was fun to get it, you'd never cut down your own tree in the forest before. We sigh with laughter over the memory. We have our old school all steel tree stand out and can't wait to put our blazing yule in it.
Saturday arrives. Tree Getting Day!
But I can't go. I'm *way* too sad. I spend the day questioning my whole life. Again. By late afternoon I feel better but by now it's way too dark to tromp through the wilderness to saw off a tree. We plan for the next day after church. Yeah, that's what we'll do.
Sunday morning. The new Tree Getting Day!
We go to church and our super friendly pastor greets us, standing outside with a beaming smile on her happy face. "Want to come over for scones after church?!" We look at each other... Um, well. We tell her it's our Tree Getting Day and she insists we don't come over. "Go! Get your tree!"
Inside near the coffeepot which lives in the foyer (read: foy-yay) and produces coffee which is guaranteed to send one to the bathroom sometime during the church service, our darling, community loving friend approaches,"Hey, I have two tickets to the final performance of King Island Christmas today. Would you like them?" Gah! What is this?! Cursed all-Saturday consuming sadness... We could have enjoyed our tree yesterday, had fresh homemade scones and attended a play for free today! I look at her and tell her thanks but no thanks (even though it's a major event here and her granddaughter had the star role and we both wanted to see it and it was front page of the paper and originates right here in Alaska) because it's Christmas Tree Getting Day. She's happy for us and gives the tickets to someone else.
Armed with excitement and our weekly grocery shopping list, we head to the supermarket which one of the fund-raising/tree selling lost shares. We get a fun holiday coffee from Starbucks (but not a PSL because those are disgusting. Yeah. You read that right, Pumpkin Spiced Latte's are gross. There. I said it.) and do our shopping. At checkout I hesitate but don't opt for cash back. Meh. Whateves.
We load our car and drive the 75 feet to the grove (aka: trailer from which fresh-off-the-barge trees are sold) of perfectly manicured shrubbery where an eager high school student greets us. We decided that, even though we live in a rain forest and don't need a permit to harvest our own, we'll support local. Crap. Cash only. How much you got? I only have a 10-spot. Well, let's go to the one closer to our apartment. Good luck with your fundraiser, swim team.
The one closer to our home is just across the bridge from us and is run by a family who has them shipped in each year and sells them out of their yard just below The Flats. Where do they ship them in from? I have no idea because, like I said, we really do live IN the woods. In the mountains. Loads and heaps of mountains. With trees. Thousands of trees. Organic, free range, gluten free trees even. Anyway...
It's like 20* and we wander throughout and watch their dog throw up and get jealous of all of their yeardspace with, how many raised garden beds? Clearly they get enough sunlight during all of the days.
We shake a couple of trees and look for the blue tags because that's our price range, er... I mean the size we want. Our apartment is only 600sq feet, after all.
We knock on the door, because they certainly aren't coming out to watch us look for trees in these low temps. Crap. Cash only. How much is it again? I can't believe we are looking to pay 50 bucks for a tree when we can go cut our own. Do you want to just? No. It's already 4:30 and we won't be able to see them now. We can go tomorrow. No! Today is Tree Getting Day!
Fine. We'll go to get cash. One of us grumbles about how in this day and age it isn't unreasonable to have a Square to pay with your card. I mean, come on. I hate having to pay $3.50 to get my own money because you only take cash. Or check. Who writes checks nowadays anyway?
We go to the store and grab a pack of gum. $51.30 for that pack of gum that's still in the car because we don't even chew gum.
We go back, one of us still grouchy, and I pay the kid and have to load the tree into the car our own selves. But he did put a fresh cut on the bottom for us. In the dark. Without a jacket on.
At home we unload the groceries, hoof the tree up the 20 most stupidly steep stairs drag it into our livingroom, pause, drag it back out again and put that thing to melt all of the snow and ice off in the hallway. Maybe we should vacuum that spot up sometime.
So, how do you want to rearrange the furniture? It was almost the question of death.
Move furniture? Can't we just put up the tree? Well, I guess so but... Yeah. No. You're right. Let's just do that and then we can arrange later.
No, no. This is important to you, so that' what we'll do.
We rearrange furniture. 8:30pm. You hungry?
We're ready. The tree come in and we open the box with our tree stand inside.
It's so classic. All steel and painted red and green.
All steel is code for: Your tree better be the exact measurements this was crafted in or you will struggle and break out into a sweat trying to just assemble the confounded thing.
We sweat. And struggle. And maybe even swear a little. Okay maybe a lot.
Well, now it's like 10. Let's just put the tree into a bucket and put it up tomorrow. We should at least get it out of the hallway and bring it in. What's that stinky smell out there anyway?
We go to bed.
Monday we go to work and come home ready to tackle this tree. One of us digs into the shared storage space of five people to un-bury the saw we didn't need because we got our tree from a lot and didn't cut it down ourselves. For free. 15 feet off the road.
What are we going to cut it over? Should we cut it at an angle? I don't know... should we just go get another tree stand?
What a waste. We have a tree stand. But you're right. Let's just go to the nearest hardware store and get one. Oh brother. We have two in the storage unit in Idaho. This is ridiculous.
We'll make it fun and go out for dinner. But where? Sigh...
We go to the hardware store just across the bridge. The same hardware store which shares an entrance of the store where we paid $51.30 for that gum yesterday.
The only ones they have cost more than the tree itself and are gigantic. Crap.
Well, Home Depot? We roll our eyes because that's all the way in the Valley. Well, nearly all the way. Okay, let's try to find that Mexican place, eat there and then go to Home Depot.
We find it and it's delicious. Leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
7pm and we enter HD. The only ones they have on the shelves are for 15' tall trees. WTH?
Excuse me, sir, (he's maybe 23), do you have any other Christmas tree stands available? No? Huh.
Customer Service guy, can you tell us if there are anymore tree stands available?
He makes a call. No. The guy already told you we don't.
We see one with a tree inside it for display. Can we buy that one? Please?
We don't care about your inventory records, see. We're customers with money wanting to buy something from this store. You're kidding me. You really won't sell it? Well Merry Christmas to you too.
Let's call Fred Meyer. I know, I know. It really is in the Valley but, our tree is in a bucket and it's 8pm. Hey, Fred, do you have any Christmas tree stands for a, like 5' tree? You do? How much? $3 off coupon? Sweet.
We walk in, buy our stand and I hesitate at checkout. Should I get cash out?
At home we plop our tree into that 3-minute EZ set up stand and it's just in time. The bucket was dry.
That retro/old school/vintage stand is our next White Elephant gift. POS.
So anyway, this week's Advent is Peace.