Our Christmas tree is up. It’s a Fraser Fir with a root ball and it smells really delicious. Last year my husband got a White Spruce. It also came with its root ball, and now it’s growing at the end of our driveway. But we never touch it. We don’t even get close it it. It’s like a patch of briars, reaching out to scratch you. Too damn prickly!
We’ve had limited success with root ball Christmas trees–either they die or they cut you, but I keep trying, because it’s such a lovely fantasy: all those Christmas trees growing up around your house, like a landscape scrapbook right there in your yard. But I think the only trees that live are the ones that are super tiny to begin with, and maybe just White Spruces. Which is kinda sad because whenever we look at the spruce we can only think about how mean it is.
When I asked my husband to pick up a tree while he was in town, I asked him specifically to get a Fraser Fir. I went into the whole thing about how the tree he got last year (and the year before) was like decorating a porcupine and then reminded him about how we had to plant the damn thing in the ground and got quilled by our own tree. This made him feel bad, I think, which was not my intent, or maybe just a little bit, so I could be sure that he wouldn’t get a White Spruce again.
“How can I tell the difference?” he wanted to know.
“The White Spruce is prickly when you touch it, like me.” I told him. “And the Fraser Fir is gentle and likes to be touched, like you.”
That was all he needed to know.
We decorated it the other night and I drank a bit of blueberry moonshine while we listened to streaming holiday music. Most of it was really terrible–my god, how can there be so much awful music out there?–but like I said, I was drinking blueberry moonshine so things were dandy. My son was playing video games and didn’t seem too interested in decorating the Christmas tree. I told him as long as he lives under my roof he has to decorate the tree, and cheerfully. And he did. He was so damn cheerful and exuberant he drove us all crazy. He put ornaments on the tree by throwing them at the tree. I am not making this up. It was fun.
The moral of this story is buy the perfect Christmas tree. Make it right. It may take some effort and long contemplation but you need to make the perfect decision, the honorable decision when you get your Christmas tree. Maybe your perfect Christmas tree isn’t like mine, which would obviously be the case in years past when our trees maimed us as we decorated them, but still. You must weigh this decision very carefully. Maybe you are going to go hunt for your tree in the woods, like I did when I was a kid, and take a beloved tree from its forest family. If you do that, make sure you leave some birdseed or something to help the forest feel better. Though of course you must realize as you drag the tree from its home you are leaving a wake of grief for the trees.
Maybe you don’t have forest access because god forbid, you are a suburban American. Are you sure you want to purchase a tree cut from its roots? One that is dying as you decorate it? Doesn’t that make you feel guilty? So then you must buy something to assuage your guilt, like a tree with a root ball, or a plastic tree made in China by orphans. You might even need to buy a White Spruce after all, so that as you decorate it you pay for the sin of being a living breathing American human being that likes Christmas trees.
Maybe we should take the Fraser Fir back after all. Go with the spruce. And some moonshine. It can’t hurt.