Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rocking Around the Christmas Tree Is Not a Possibility

So by now you've all heard the beginning of the story of us picking out our first tree as man and wife. If you haven't heard it, I guess we're not really friends. If you would like to fix that and get back in my good graces again, you can catch up on it here.

When we last left, our heroine Lindsay had finally selected her perfect tree cutting ensemble. She thought this would be the most difficult part of an otherwise happy occasion. She would soon find out how easy she had it when the hardest thing she had to do was hunt down the perfect red flannel.

Ahhh I can't write like that. Third person is not my friend. Anywho...

So Steve and I woke bright and early (um like 8:30- yikes) on Thursday morning so we could head up to New Hampshire to select our first fir. Why NH, you ask, when we live in Massachusetts and are completely surrounded by trees? Well I'll tell you, my friends. Steve is something of a tree elitist. A treelitist, if you will. He has been picking out trees in the rolling forests of NH for years for his family, and has always considered them to be superior to all other New England trees. Being a NH born citizen myself, I completely understand viewing the state as a mecca of all things nature and mountainy, however it's a slight inconvenience when you live an hour and ten minutes from even its most southern border (which Steve doesn't even thing qualifies as "real" NH and refers to it as Northern MA). But this was going to be a special occasion- when else in our lives would we ever pick out our first tree? You know, other than the one we had last year. Our first married tree. Not that we're marrying the tree. You get what I'm saying.

If I was going to be getting up that early on a day off and spending a majority of it outdoors traipsing around a farm, I was going to need some sort of compensation. Steve really had his heart set on a tree farm in Portsmouth and I knew immediately what my bargaining tool would be:


The Friendly Toast is one of my favorite places. I got chocolate milk and cinnamon raisin French toast. I don't remember what Steve had but he seemed happy about it, despite the fact it was cutting into our woodsy time.

doesn't he look like he would fit in at a truck stop?

After taking what felt like 4 years to get our check, we finally were on our way to Tonry's Tree Farm where all of Steve's Christmas dreams would be coming true. We had spent a little time in downtown Portsmouth, so by the time we got there it was almost 1:00. In my head I had hoped we'd be back by 1:00 so we could start decorating. However, if you know us you know that timing isn't exactly one of our strong points as a couple. But I let it go, because there were acres and acres of tree farm to be combed and we essentially had the place to ourselves, because let's face it- who else is going to hit up a tree farm at 1:00 on a Thursday?!

All the little areas of the farm had names. I was hoping our tree would come from this one:

this is where all the sexy trees hang out

But alas, it wasn't happening for us in the Vixen Field. In fact, none of the trees in any of the 20 million fields were doing anything for us. Because all of the good ones were tagged. Tagged! December 1st! All the nice normal tree shaped trees had already been claimed by happy families just sitting at home while we were out in the trenches picking through their left overs. I started to get bitter. Steve just kept finding tree after tree that he thought was "perfect." Like this one:

fat bottomed tree, you make the rocking world go round

Now I'm aware that people tag trees. We had this same issue last year when we slummed it picking out our tree in Rhode Island. But I really thought that was because we were so late getting one. I never imagined that in a place with this many trees that so many of them would already be claimed.

And not just claimed. Claimed and decorated. The tags I saw last year were just little red tickets with people's last names on them. Apparently, in NH, they don't mess around. I mean, they do live free or die. Apparently they live so free that they decorate trees that AREN'T EVEN ALL THE WAY THEIRS YET as you only need 10% down to claim your tree. Tree layaway, is what it is. Treeaway. I can't believe none of these tree farmers have capitalized on any of these terms yet.

Some trees just had like, red tacky bows from the dollar store on them. Others went all out, with themes and everything. Like this one:

how embarassing

There were others that really wanted you to know how proud they were of their roots. GET IT?! Roots?

hey, I think this tree belongs to someone

By this point, I started to think awful thoughts.
Me: How much would I have to pay you to take off one of these tags?
Steve: Stop it. Karma will get you. And Christmas karma is worse.
Me: Whatever.

If you've ever gone shopping with my husband, you know ahead of time to set aside at least 5 hours or else you will end up having to cancel the rest of your plans that day. I knew it would be a long day, because he takes 2 hours to pick out a pair of sneakers, so I could only imagine how long it would take for something that we would have to look at every day in our home for a month. I still was not prepared to walk around every field of that damn tree farm twice.

The weather was deceivingly nice for December 1st- no clouds, blue skies, sunshine. Because of this I felt it unnecessary to bring gloves or a hat. During the first hour I was like "eh, there's a slight nip in the air, but no biggie." At first, I actually thought it was weird to be picking out a tree when it had been like 60 degrees the day before. But by hour two... I was dying. I instantly began to regret every decision I had made that day, starting with wearing my brown heeled books. I was sinking into the wet, mushy grass as I walked up and down the same hills four times because we had to revisit tree candidates that we weren't sure about. I could barely keep the snot from dripping out of my nose and my eyes were watering so much, it looked like I had an emotional breakdown when I finally left the farm that day. But let's get back to how we finally selected "the tree."

Earlier in our travels, we had both spotted a tree that had somehow grown like 4 feet off the ground. We both commented on it's nice shape and kept moving.

But later, as we were nearing the 3:00 mark, we walked by said tree again and started seriously considering this as a our potential tree. It was hard to tell exactly how big it was, giving that the actual tree part started so high and the cold had killed most of of my critical thinking abilities. Steve tried to measure the tree from the bottom of the branches up to see if it would fit.

an optical illusion...?

Since we had no idea how tall the ceilings were, we had to call the apartment complex to check. 9 feet exactly! Using the oldest measuring tape in the world, Steve deduced that the tree was about 8 feet tall. We started to think we were in business.

So after much deliberation we decided it was time to cut.

I wasn't prepared to do any actual sawing, but still felt the need to stage a photo in my outfit and all:

take that, l.l.- bean, not cool j

But being a lady lumberjack is not all fun. It's hard work too.

i'm not cut out for this

So Steve jumped in.

By this time I was starting to go a little cray cray in the brain. I was so overcome with emotion and hypothermia that I almost took it out on the tree:

this tree knows who is in charge

But then it was time to get the thing on top of the car. Fortunately, my husband spared me this and let me stay in the car with the heat on, sitting on my hands hoping to regain feeling in them again.

i pulled the rope. my only contribution to this part besides capturing it on film

Finally, it was time to head home. We said goodbye to the tree farm and I silently hoped to never return again.

note that is is now almost dark

Needless to say, we didn't get home until almost 7:00. Also, I was so full from my breakfast that I hadn't had anything else to eat that day. We left the tree on top of the car and relaxed for 2.2 seconds while we tried to figure out a plan of attack.

Steve had called his friend Mark on the way home to ask him to help us get the tree upstairs, because clearly I am of no use at all when it comes to lifting heavy things covered in sap.

Yet when we got home, Mark didn't pick up his phone. After calling repeatedly, Steve was overcome with the desire to get the tree inside NOW. So for the second year in a row, he threw the tree on top of his back and carried it up 3 FLIGHTS OF STAIRS.

Finally Mark showed up and the men began to assess the situation. There may have been maps, blueprints and other specs to figure out where exactly the tree was going to go.

tool time

It wasn't until the tree was inside that we really started to question the size of it. I mean, we knew it was tall, but how did it suddenly double in width? Had it grown on the way home?

We couldn't really determine anything until we saw it standing up in the tree stand.

Did you know that Steve has trouble making decisions? All week he had been debating between two different stands that looked basically identical to me:


As the guys had the tree finally standing upright in our 690 sq. ft apartment, it hit me.

This tree is too damn big.

I still don't even feel like any of these pictures really show how much of a monstrosity this thing is. No matter where we put it, it's in the middle of our apartment. It's like we have a third roommate. Besides Mark.

A panic immediately began to set in for me. We were going to have to share our home with this thing for a month. Last year we had so many ornaments between the two of us that you could hardly see the tree anymore. Steve actually looked at this tree and told me, "I don't think we have enough ornaments."

Although I should have been happy that he was basically giving me permission to shop (wait, is that not what you got out of that comment?) instead I felt the making of a stroke looming inside me. How are we going to live like this? You have to turn sideways to get around it just to enter the living room, and then once you're in there you have to do the same thing to get into the dining area. It's going to shed everywhere. I have already found needles in parts of my apartment that are no where in the vicinity of this tree (although I guess everything in here is now technically in the vicinity of this thing). When Steve emptied the vacuum it looked as if a small baby tree had already formed inside of it.

He could tell I was freaking out.

Steve: I feel like you want to cry right now.
Me: Um, no. I'm fine.
Steve: I think you want to cry but you're not doing it because Mark is here.
Me: False. I'm just thinking.
Steve: I can tell when you're upset.

Whether or not he thought I was on the verge of tears, Steve and Mark still deemed it a good time to reward themselves for all the work they did. And that reward was scotch (because you can't make it home from NH without hitting up a highway liquor store) with a pine garnish. Steve claims the sap enhances the taste.

flannel, pine and scotch. does a man need anything else?

So now, cut to me, living in a forest, which if you know me, is that last place I want to be.

I'm still trying to come to terms with the tree. Steve has volunteered to remove it and try to give it to someone else, but after spending an entire day and $55 on this thing, I don't feel like that is fair to any of us.

Steve often checks in on me and the tree to see if we are starting to form some sort of bond, as observed by this text just this morning.

Steve: Are you and the tree getting along?
Me: We're working on our issues.

The tree is now it's own entity, as if it is a giant person. Steve depicts it as a bully that we are forced to serve in fear of it's wrath.

Steve: When I woke up in the middle of the night the tree pushed me against the wall and said, "Listen, I want a full sized chicken every night."
Me: That's not funny. This tree could kill us.

Steve: When I got home today, the tree was sitting on the couch smoking a cigarette.
Me: Dear God, please stop.

None of this would have happened if we had just gotten the tree that I wanted.

sigh. i miss you

So now my only hope is that somehow, decorations will help tone down the ginormous-ness of this thing in my living room. If you don't hear form me for 8 days, it's because I'm still decorating. Or the tree has swallowed me whole, Little Shop of Horrors-style.

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