Growing up in New Jersey, my family often bought a Christmas Tree out of the parking lot of some Chinese restaurant or department store. Two Guys comes to mind, an early precursor to the Wal-Mart concept.
I recall a few years we had an artificial tree, and Mom just wasn’t happy with that. Just as much work to decorate and “no smell”. No needles didn’t seem to impress her enough to prefer the artificial over the real tree, though. Plus our cat preferred the real one too.
One year we decided to go to a tree farm, in Cranberry, NJ. I was pretty little at the time but I recall we went rather late in the day and selecting a tree and getting it cut was an ordeal. But I think at least someone cut it for us and tied it to our car!
For many years I either had no tree, or an artificial one. Live trees are often wrapped with a netting and you can’t tell what you’re going to get when you buy them out of a parking lot.
Fortunately in New England there are many tree farms, where you traditionally go sometime after Labor Day and before mid October to “Tag” the tree. Often a family will bring their kids and decorate the tree to a degree. It’s a very ritualistic event, very joyful and the family adopts the tree and even gets emotionally attached to it, while it’s still alive and planted in the ground.
Usually after Thanksgiving, you return to pick up your tree. You hand in your ticket, pay for it, you’re given a wheelbarrow and a saw and you proceed to the field to try and find your tree, and then cut it down.
It’s a bit sad to cut such a majestic beauty, and at the same time you can’t wait til you’ve severed the last wood fiber from the trunk!
Plunk it into your cart and wheel it away. A friendly burly young man then gives it a fresh even cut, wraps it for you, and enthusiastically offers to put it in your car for you. Shake his hand and give him a few bucks for a beer.
You’re now on your way! Sap dripping on your shoulder. Prayers for an insect free tree.
Get the tree home, argue over “where is the front?” with your loved ones, twist your fingers til they ache with those tight screws on the tree stand. Now you’re ready for alcohol, but hey, the tree gets an aspirin? That is supposedly an unfounded unnecessary thing. Mythbusters has tried all sorts of tips to extend a tree’s life and keeping it well watered was the only thing one really has to do.
Once you’ve got it standing nice and straight and tall, leave it the hell alone. Let it rest. Keep kitty away from it. Then put the lights on it, then the ornaments, then some tinsel or garland, the tree skirt, and the tree topper, and you’re all ready for presents to be delivered by Santa.
It’s helpful to have a giant bag for the tree once the Holidays are over and you’re going to take it down. Ocean State Job Lot here in MA is a great place to get the bags. You just lay it on the floor, lower the tree stump into the bag, lift it over and you’ll greatly reduce the loose needles from falling all over your floor.
You should really plant another tree in place of the one you are now putting on the curb, the dumpster, down a hill. Burning the tree will produce methane and CO2 and cause global warming.
You just can’t win!