Saturday, December 17, 2005
We decided to throw in the towel this year and get an artificial Christmas tree. I know...I know....we've talked about it for years and just couldn't get behind the idea. But when we considered the sawing off of the extra branches, maintaining the daily water levels, the incessant dropping of pine needes, death by fire from December 26th to January 1st, not to mention the $80+ per year price tag, the idea sounded very appealing. Since the kids have both moved out, there was no need for a vote, so we hopped into the car and drove 62 miles to Shimoda in Santa Ana, having heard they had the best selection. No doubt about that. We ogled forty decorated trees, compared the plastic pine branches to the papery bristly ones...inspected the interior trunk for some semblance of tree-ness...gulped loudly at the price tags ($800????) and readjusted our priorities. No, 1200 lights weren't necessary. Did it really have to look *that* real? Do the pine cones really add anything? After noting the differences and realizing the most expensive ones were truly better, we selected a mid-range six foot Arctic Fir and flagged down an employee to retrieve it from the warehouse. (Kind of like finding the guy at the tree lot.) Relieved to have made a decision, we patiently waited in line for the next cashier. Our turn. She asked for our Shimoda card. Our Shimoda card? Wholesale only...she needed to see our card. Carl stayed with the cashier while I walked to the registration desk to sign up. They needed a copy of my resale certificate. I know my number by heart, I explained. Doesn't matter. They needed a copy. Oh well. No Shimoda tree for us. I waved Carl over and told him we couldn't get the tree.
If Carl was upset about driving for an hour and studying trees for a half hour and waiting in life for ten minutes, he didn't show it. That was really nice of him. It must have had something to do with the Christmas spirit. So what now? Didn't know the neighborhood. Home Depot? Lowes? We knew where to find Christmas tree lots but hadn't a clue where else they sold fake, umm artificial ones. There was a Michael's in Yorba Linda on the way home so we stopped there. Five styles....three out of stock. But we liked one of them so we flagged an employee down, etc, etc. Paid half of what we would have at "wholesale." A talkative, friendly cashier carried our seven foot Mountain Pine (bigger, more lights) to the car. Almost like when the Christmas tree lot attendants wrap the real thing in red netting and help you tie it to the top of your vehicle. As they shoved the box into the back of the wagon, Carl noticed the description on the box. Item Code: Event Tree. We had finally purchased our first artificial event tree.
At home, we unloaded the box and eyed the assembly instructions. Three pieces. Slam dunk. As we began connecting the three sets of pipe adorned with realistically formed plastic pine needles and honest-to-goodness pine cones, I realized something was missing. Music. There's nothing like those classic event carols to get into the mood. Spurred on by that warm event feeling, we teamed up and began connecting the poles and straightening the branches. Adhering to our usual event tradition, I set about decorating the tree and Carl moved to the porch to hang the exterior event lights. As I bent and twisted the hundreds of individual sprigs, I struggled with just how symmetrical the tree should be. Then it hit me: we wouldn't be kidding anyone. This event tree was perfect. Hours later and the decorating done, we relaxed and discussed how different the event felt this year. No fresh pine fragrance. No extra branches to make a wreath. No trying to disguise the bad side of the tree. No tangled strings of lights. No leaking water from the stand that permanently stains the wood floor. We agreed that the event felt especially good.