Our First Tree

By on 9 December, 2013 in Fun, Holidays, Kate and Stephen, Shopping with 3 Comments

We’re hosting Christmas for the first time ever this year, so we’re excited but also nervous.

We wanted to get a live tree. Although one of us grew up with a plastic tree kept in pieces in trash bags in a storage shed, the other of us grew up with live trees for Christmas and learned to love the smell and the feel, despite the needles that can make a mess if you don’t stay on top of them.

We thought about doing one of the trips out to some farm to cut down a live specimen, but weren’t sure about hauling one back so far on our car. We saw some listed on this site, but they seemed pretty far away.

So, we did some research and some driving around town. We weren’t sure how much to expect to spend – we’d seen tiny trees for astronomical prices, and big ones for even more. We decided to get one at The Tree Farmer out on Taylor and Vaughn Road because we’d heard a rumor they had Alabama-grown trees. They didn’t, but had a fine selection of lovely Fraser Firs from North Carolina. We are lucky to have nine foot ceilings, so we were able to get an 8-foot tree for only $65. It was reduced in size once freshly cut, but that didn’t matter to us – it seemed improbably big and lush.

And yet … a narrative twist! Before we’d gone to get the tree, we had gone to Home Depot and purchased one of those plastic stands with the screws on each side. One of us grew up with that kind of stand, and remembers the long straightening of the tree as the only occasion of parental squabbling. It can be a real pain to be the person under the tree following complicated directions (“Left, left, no, now back to the right!”), and there’s always the risk that the person holding it upright will wander off, or get distracted, and then you have a leaning mess. As our old family Christmas tree stand aged, it began to lean independently of the tree, requiring books to be strategically placed underneath and bricks above to stabilize the tree. Nevertheless, we didn’t know any better.

That is, until we got to the place where we bought our Montgomery tree. Turns out, there is a new and major development in Christmas tree-straightening technology. It’s a metal tripod composed of rebar with a sharp spike in the middle. When you buy your tree, they drill a hole in the middle of the trunk. Then you bring the thing home, stick it on the spike, and hammer the stand into place. Friends, this thing really works. The gigantic tree was immediately upright and miraculously straight.

The staff did an amazing job of securing the tree onto our car with some Boy Scout-quality knots. There was just one problem – on the passenger side, they tied the door closed, requiring either a climb-over or a Dukes of Hazzard-style maneuver. We chose the former.

Now there was just the matter of the cats. One of our major worries was that the herbivorous one would devour the tree, while the younger (and vastly crazier one) would climb it. We considered anchoring it to the wall, but as we’ve just painted in the front room, we weren’t really looking to run guide wires into our new plaster. So we’ve spent some time hanging out with the cats, the tree, and a spray bottle full of water. So far, we’re happy to report that training is going well. Knock wood, it’s still upright.

Another lesson: No matter how many lights you buy, chances are they are not going to be enough. We found ourselves returning to the store the next day to buy more lights. Probably we should have waited until the branches settled down a bit to do this chore, but we were positively filled with the holiday spirit. Fortunately, the cats are super into strings of lights and probably will not mind the restringing we’ve got to do this week.

We decided to get LED lights, because this is also a major advance over the old strings, where one bulb would burn out and you would have to go through the whole string by hand checking bulbs – one of the many kinds of child labor our parents inflicted on us at the holidays. Plus, these are super energy efficient.

Speaking of conservation, we were cheered to learn that the city has a tree recycling program. The downside is that you need to take your tree to one of the locations listed here. We hope that ours isn’t shedding so many needles by then that we will have to just take it to the curb! Hopefully they do good things with the trees they recycle. In some other cities, they grind trees into mulch to put in places like dog parks, so you get that wonderful pine smell for months to come.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, eight fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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  1. Jay Croft says:

    Hooray for the real thing! We bought a fake tree a few years ago but came to despise it. This fall I gave it to a charitable organization.

    Little Mountain Growers on McGehee Rd. sells excellent trees. They will lop off an inch of the trunk and fasten your stand. Then they will deliver, for no extra charge!

  2. Love it! I have cats – and wait until you get your tree decorated with your favorite ornaments – even your antique ornaments – only to hear the clinky sound of ornaments and after looking at your tree, you see TWO BIG eyes staring out at you – YES, the cat is in the middle of the tree! I love fresh trees – but again, you have to know where to go to get the fresh trees – unfortunately, due to my antique ornaments as well as my older Christopher Radko ornaments, I need to use a fake tree so that they are secured safely on the tree. For those who love a real tree -as do I – you can buy the spray can of ‘fake tree’ which at least, gives you the illusion of having a real tree. LOVE THE STORY!

  3. K2 says:

    The trick to the cats is to wrap presents quickly and surround the tree bottom with them. Then, it is hard for the cats to get in and climb up.

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