Saturday, December 12, 2009

trimming the tree

We’re right now (still) reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma and we’re finally close to the end. Pollan is discussing his hunting adventures and he’s mentioned a couple of times that ‘dressing’ an animal is really more like ‘undressing’ the animal. (He goes through this whole description of dressing the pig he believes he shot and, once again, I’m glad I don’t have to kill our meat.)

So, Thursday, we bought our Yule tree. This is the earliest in the season we’ve ever bought it. We’re compromising. Cardo believes the tree should be up for an entire month leading up to Christmas. I like to buy our tree at the last possible moment (and we usually get a discount on our tree this way). We bought it at the Top Notch tree lot, where we’ve bought every live tree we’ve gotten. (And, here we go with the opposites again, because, of course, our tree hasn’t been alive since they cut it down in Oregon a few days ago. A real tree, then, but then we can argue what is Real and what isn’t. Let’s not.) I like to go there. The people there always treat us well. From the moment we walk up, the guys (I’ve never seen a woman working there) greet us and point out what they have available. Yesterday, the person who first greeted us pointed out the different kinds of trees and their price ranges. As we were looking, another person told us he was glad to see us and told us they could answer any questions we have. Too often, when Cardo and I go places, we’re ‘greeted’ by people who seem to find it an inconvenience that we’ve interrupted their quiet time or something. It’s nice to go somewhere where the people seem genuinely glad to have your business and where they treat you like people, not just consumers.

Pic usually chooses our tree, but this time she was into the pricey trees. (I have no idea what ‘pricey’ means to other people, but anything that’s over eighty dollars, I’m going to go ahead and call ‘pricey.’ That’s where we are right now in our financial situation, at least.) We finally chose one that was only twenty-five dollars. The people working the lot didn’t treat us any differently when we chose an inexpensive tree. They trimmed it for us (as in actual trimming: cutting off the bottom branches and leveling the base) and told us how to care for it once we got it home.

Once home, Cardo set it up in the stand and Pic and I filled the stand with water. Cardo put the lights on and we all dabbled in the trimming: adding the ornaments in this case, of course. Pic did most of this.

While I was hesitant to buy and set up a tree so early, I think it’s nice to have it. First off, the apartment smells amazing. There’s the pine smell – we bought a Douglas fir – but there’s also a lemony smell underneath the stronger scent. The closer you get to the tree, the more you can smell the citrus. (Please don’t tell me that means something horrible about my tree. Let me believe it should have a slight lemony scent.)

For now, there’s nothing under the tree. We bought Pic’s gift last month. Pic and I have yet to buy anything for Cardo. I’ll probably get him something and then Pic and I will get or make him a little something. I’m leaning toward making something…but what? Cardo’s like a kid with presents: his wonder with and delight in them is fun to observe. Pic likes gifts, too. Me? I like to receive them, but I could really go without.

This end-of-the-year holiday season is one of our more difficult ones. I think the last one that was this tight was when I was seven months pregnant and hadn’t been working since the previous March. This is one of the times I’m glad we’ve never set up the tradition of going all-out-crazy in our gift-buying. First of all, I don’t think it’s worth it to buy a ton of gifts. We have plenty already. We have more things than we’ll ever need. Second, I somewhat dislike the focus on consumerism that is so much sharper this time of year. I do like to buy gifts for others, when I can, but rather than inundate people with a ton of stuff, I like to stick with something simple, and, I hope, meaningful (this isn’t always easy). Third, had we that tradition of gifts stuffed in every cranny of the apartment, years like this would seem like real bummers.

So, anyhow, the tree is up. Now what to put under it? Any suggestions for handmade gifts? (Made by Pic's and my hands, that is, because, yes, I could shop on etsy for hours and hours...if only I had the money.)


Coach J said...

I'm with ya on the tightness and the consumerism and all that jazz. Things here too are TIGHT and we'll be doing a "Very Merry Minimalist Christmas" here.

We actually went out and cut our tree down this year. A first for me, and a pretty cool experience.

Would any and all of you like to come by one night this week?