The Christmas Tree, 2019

Another year, another Christmas post. For a non-Christian, I spend a lot of time each December writing about Christmas.

IMG_0559We picked up our tree today. For the fourth year in a row, we drove out through the dormant apple orchards to Showers’ Tree Farm. We used to go to Seven Springs Tree Farm, closer to town, but they went out of business. Just as well, Seven Springs priced their trees by the foot—seven dollars if I remember correctly. Bouncing up the dirt road into the field where they grew the trees, I’d always say “This year, kids, no more than six feet.”

Every year, not while sitting in our car listening to Christmas carols with the heater blasting a summer breeze, but out in the field, an icy wind blowing our voices away, we had the same argument.

Eli: “I want a fat tree.”
Sophie: “I want a tree shaped like a Christmas tree.”
Susan: “I want a Charlie Brown tree.”
Me: “I want a tree less than six feet.”

After a frigid half hour of arguing, we’d find the perfect tree. I would lay in the snow, scooch myself under the tree, and cut it off at the base with a bow saw. Checking out at the gift shop with its overpriced ornaments, store bought donuts and scalded hot chocolate, the guy would measure the tree. “I got eight feet. Fifty-six dollars.” Tip, crappy food, an ornament we didn’t need, our trip to the country tree farm was an eighty-dollar outing. It would be cheaper to buy a tree from a church in the middle of a city.

On our way out to Showers’ today, Susan told us tree prices are going up. “Well maybe not here in Gettysburg, but nationally. I read about it on NPR today.” It seems Boomers are done with real trees; the tree farms aren’t selling enough to sustain operations. Showers’ is the same price every year—thirty-five dollars, any tree, any size. Except this year. They repainted their sign: Fifty Dollars – Any Tree.

At least they don’t have a gift shop.

Posts of Christmases Past:
Appropriating Christmas 
Mr. Marks’ Christmas Dose 
Be the Light 

19 thoughts on “The Christmas Tree, 2019

  1. We succumbed to the siren call of the artificial tree a few years ago. This is, in part, because I am a bit sneezy around too much evergreen. I made it a personal mission to buy, haul and decorate my own tree the first year after my divorce. I recall Sally from Harry Met Sally fame dragging her tree along the pavement–except my duplex was also up a flight of stairs. But,with my young son looking on, I did it! (I believe it was a $50 tree). My point is, sometimes a tree is just a tree, one you can get from any lot or out of a box. And sometimes, a tree is a tradition or a symbol or both. A Christmas tree is something wonderfully, ridiculously, a thing unto itself.

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    • The tree is a tradition here, but not one that’s likely to outlast my kids celebrating with us. My wife and I barely care, and I’m not sure we would even acknowledge Christmas without the rest of our family around. Plus, financially at $50 a pop (plus gas), a fake tree pays for its self in five years. And no mess. Thanks for stopping by. Always happy to see you here.

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  2. We got our tree yesterday. It was a day all of our personalities clashed and we fought – not even about the tree. Bob has a vision for a big fat one so we all have the same vision. But by the time the tree was up, lit and ornaments were on we all needed a break from each other. Yesterday I was ready to be done with the whole stupid tree thing. We all agreed yesterday wasn’t fun, but everything was back to status quo today and so I’m not as negative about the tree. I think our tree was $58 – so far I think that is typical for our area. But I will be watching the tree prices from now on. That’s interesting. And I have to say, Be the Light is one of my favorite of yours. Really made me laugh 🙂

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    • Thanks (about be the light). We have days too where no one meshes and everyone has a bad time, but less frequently now as some of our stressors are getting under control. The tree thing is stupid, but then I remember it isn’t stupid for the kids and then I get excited. Today Sophie tried to cut the tree but the saw was really dull and it was next to impossible. The thing I didn’t write about was all the trees had dried up brown areas on them. There were also several trees in the field that were completely dead. I’ll be surprised if that place is still operating next year. It looks like they’ve got a serious disease going on.

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      • You’re right, it is about the kids. We used to do a lot of elaborate decorating outside too which has waned through the years. Sometimes I wonder if we should just stop our meek efforts but then remember – it’s all about the kids. They do make the holidays more fun.

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  3. I was shocked to see Christmas trees with widely-spaced branches (apparently the current trend) going for $99 outside the local grocery store on Thanksgiving weekend. Seriously? With a national forest five minutes away, most folks here pay a $10 fee to the FS and find their own. As a child, shopping for a tree always happened on my birthday (Dec 18), a week before Christmas, in an effort to…? Not sure if that made the mashup between my birthday and Christmas better or worse. Once an adult, as a nonbeliever like you, I’ve never had a tree. I have, however, on occasion decorated my road bike with lights and put holiday presents next to its wheels.

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    • $99 is absurd. I’m going to a party in DC next weekend. I plan to ask around what a tree costs there. Probably $120. A couple of the stories linked at the bottom of my post explore my discomfort in celebrating “the birth of Jesus.” I’m sure he was an awesome dude, but so was Abe Lincoln and no one makes a big deal out of Presidents’ Day. We have several bikes to decorate, but they all live in the garage.

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  4. Wait, you have to tromp out into snow, cut down the tree *yourself”, drag it back to the shop, AND pay for it? Seems insane. We just buy a $20 permit and chop a tree under the power lines down (saves the municipality from having to do it). But now, we’ve gone artificial, and I can’t tell you how much more fun it is to not hear my kids whine about how miserable they are.. 😂

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    • YEs, it is a little insane all the work that goes into the tree acquisition. It’s supposed to be *magical* – usually it’s just uncomfortable. The only time it hit magical is when the farm had St. Bernards pulling trees back to the shop on sleds. I doubt we’l go artificial. I can just hear my kids now ranting about caving to the corporate ‘man’.

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  5. My little brother takes his family to the mountains and “shoots” a tree down using his shotgun, takes one back for my parents too (I didn’t even know you could do that before!) As for us, a 3-foot fake one that sits in the window and fits nicely in the cupboard does the trick! One day when there’s a house instead of a tiny city flat, I’ll probably insist on a big (fake) tree.

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    • Shooting down a tree can’t be legal… can it? 🙂
      I was thinking yesterday about when I lived in a big city apartment building. I got a tree anyway. I was wondering if I left a horrendous trail of brown pine needles all the way out of the building every January.

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  6. I read that the price of Christmas trees is going up too – tariffs. Ugh! We used to have a tree outing similar to yours, with my husband grumbling the whole time. We have yet to get a tree this year; we are waiting for our middle son to come home next weekend. He and his wife will cheerfully help obtain and decorate a tree.

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  7. Ah Jeff, think of the memories you are creating for the kids!!! They are priceless! I don’t buy real trees because as you know, I keep them up for 6 months. They are kind of like a Wobee to me. Haha. Glad you finally put one up. I agree ornaments are stupid expensive. I only usually only buy them the day after Xmas when they are 75% off.

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    • My childhood memories of getting a tree are all the same. Off to a parking lot on Friday night, Saturday afternoon decorating. Later, as a twenty something, I snagged one from the lot across the street from the bar after last call. 😦 I have to think the process of going to the tree farm will be a warm memory for life even though we were never warm at the time.

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