Christmas miracle or not, I was a little dissatisfied with my Drag Bingo tree. I mean, it was a very nice tree. Real fir, grown in the North Carolina mountains, full and thick. And it came ready-made with a terrific backstory. Why, yes, this is my Drag Bingo tree. But it wasn't even six feet tall. I'm sure that was the point. Not knowing who would end up with it, they wanted to give away a tree that someone in limited living space could still use. They didn't know that the person who would win it had very nice, high ceilings indeed.
My house is one-and-a-half stories tall. That means that there is a second floor, but it only covers half of the first floor. So the ceiling of my living room slopes up with the roof, going all the way up to a open balcony hallway upstairs. We have a lot of headroom for an awesome Christmas tree. Is it shallow of me to want one? It's okay. You can say yes.
We had planned to get a tree the day after Drag Bingo. So we did anyway. It was a terrible day for it - cold and a bit rainy. We were on our way back from the grocery store and we just decided to swing by the tree lot at the Citgo. There are multiple tree lots between my house and the grocery store, but this was the one we liked. It was held by a family farm up in Ashe County. The people were incredibly nice. I mean, I'm used to southern hospitality, but these guys were taking niceness to new levels. They offered to bring a parade of trees in under the tent so we wouldn't have to be in the weather, and then when we insisted on walking around ourselves, they offered us rain slickers.
I had been looking forward to this, I admit it. Last year, Josh did it himself. I just came home from work one day and there was a tree in my living room. I'm still not altogether used to the real tree concept. I mean, there's a tree. In the house! It looks like it's growing out of the floor, like dandelions that pop up in sidewalk cracks, except rather than spray it with poison, we put ornaments on it. It's really no wonder that it took me so long to appreciate Christmas - it's freaking weird. This year, eager to soak up as much Christmas as possible, I asked if I could go pick out a tree with him.
I picked out a tree that was the height that I wanted. It didn't look so tall, maybe like seven feet. Once I'd settled on a height that I wanted, I asked Josh to pick the right tree. He did. I confess, it's not the one I would have picked, but I'm really new at this Christmas stuff.
Once the tree had been picked, the nice people trimmed off the bottom limbs and tied it up for transport. We talked to the tree lady while the tree men were at work. Josh told her that we actually already had a tree that I had won the night before at bingo. I didn't tell her what kind of bingo, in case she disapproved. Or in case she wondered whether I was actually a man in disguise. We told her that we were going to try and give away the little tree to someone who lived in an apartment. She said that the only thing better than one Christmas tree was two. I dismissed this as the talk of a crazy tree person. We might have a sarcophagus in our hallway, but two Christmas trees? That's just silly.
Since we lived so close, they delivered the tree for us. Luckily, we had two tree bases. There is an unsung advantage in having magpie tendencies - you frequently already have what you need. Last year, we had bought a new plastic one from Lowes. Then Josh had found one of those old red and green metal ones at the thrift store, which we preferred. We'd been scowling at the plastic one all year long, since it represented wasted money at the retail store. However, it turned out to be a good thing we had it - the metal one did not fit on our big tree. I guess people back then had more sense then to buy eight-and-a-half foot Christmas trees.
Because that's what it was. They look so much smaller on the lot, out in the open air, but when you get a tree into your one-and-a-half story home, you realize how big it really is. We bit off more than we could chew with this one. The funny thing is that Josh knew how big it was. If he had his doubts, he ignored them, figuring that I knew what I was doing. That'll learn him. I'm a little worried that this massive tree will set a precedent for us. After all, in picking out an approximate tree height, I was only trying to match what we had last year. Now that we've had one oversized tree, we may find that we like them that way.
We set it up and dug the box of ornaments out of the closet. After years of ignoring Christmas decorations at yard sales, I've spent the last year paying special attention to them. Between the ones his dad gave us last year and what I managed to accumulate this year, we had a respectable showing. We also had some "filler" ornaments, ones that I'd bought retail last year when I realized we didn't have any. As we were decorating, I could tell which ones we liked best, because we put them on first. We wanted to make sure they had good visibility. It's true that there the decorations are a little widely-spaced, but that's because some doofus picked out an eight foot tree. We spent two late nights threading popcorn garlands to fill in the blanks.
I got the garland idea from my sister. A while back, when I wrote about my Christmas history, she left a comment about the kind of Christmases they had before I was born or old enough to remember. They cut their own tree down and decorated it with homemade ornaments, because they didn't have the money to spend on frivolity. I suggested making garlands to Josh, who took to it immediately with an enthusiasm that surprised me. We like it because we're being true to our roots - between my parents and his grandparents, we know a lot of dollar-stretching tricks. Yet, it felt a little weird, as if we were glorifying poverty. Plus, we were wrapping these garlands around a tree that we had spent $70 on, even after we already had a perfectly serviceable, if small, drag bingo tree. But hey, screw it, it's Christmas.
I had sort of forgotten how nice it is to have a Christmas tree around. It was the first thing that we turned on when we got home, as if it were a lamp. If I left the house for a short trip to the grocery store, I even left it on, just so I could see it in the window when I got back. I felt a sort of childish delight with it and caught myself gazing at it, seeking out my favorite ornaments. Like I said, it's not the one I would have picked at the lot, but once it was taking up half my living room, I was in love with it. Josh clearly knows what he's doing in the tree-picking department.
The giant tree wiped us out in terms of decorations, which is sort of sad, because we still had the other tree. We offered the little one to a couple of friends, but they either already had trees or didn't want one. So we had two Christmas trees. It was the Christmas of two trees. Maybe I should be worried about the kind of precedent we're setting there. Maybe that is only the first step in becoming a crazy tree person.