And then sometimes your tannen baums

I spontaneously bought a Christmas tree yesterday, a bold move for any single member of Christmas crazed family. For someone with my track record, though, it was especially so.
I had stopped at a local market for a simple bag of frozen fruit when a small sign buried behind the boughs caught my eye. “Frasier Firs. $29.99”
Quite a deal, no?
I bought the fruit and the tree.
Two kind store employees helped me hoist the thing onto my tiny car and left me to twine it. As I drove home, tree trunk precariously perched above my windshield, tree tip jutted out near the tail pipe and white rope flapping along the sides, I thought about my history with Christmas trees.
As a newlywed, I decorated our first tree with candy canes and homemade cookies. The tree looked beautiful and I planned to photograph it the following morning. As I slept, the cookies slid off their ribbons and landed in a mushy heap on the floor. Martha Stewart, I am not.
In later years we joined my siblings on annual jaunts to my father’s farm to cut down wild trees. This charming tradition netted all four of us the ugliest trees in our neighborhoods. One year, my brother even accidentally cut down a cedar bush and tried to pass it off as a Christmas tree. A tree farmer, Dad was not.
Eventually, we all gave up and bought our trees from local lots. The first year my husband overshot and dragged home a tree so big he couldn’t fit it through the door. He chopped the top off, shoved it through the door and, that year, our angel hunched humiliated inside our square tree.
For the past several years, Molly has taken charge of our tree selection and we have enjoyed a run of healthy, beautiful trees.
She was not pleased to hear I had bought a tree without her. However, once we had sawed off the bottom with a kitchen bread knife and wrestled the thing into its stand, even Molly approved.
So fleeting is the time we spend with our Christmas trees, whose imperfections make them even more beautiful, and so grateful are we that the stories they inspire last a lifetime.

I love this Christmas tree photo, circa 1968. My mom has
it down, but the rest of us took a few years to work out the
kinks of the self-timing camera.
Fast forward 24 years and I’m wondering about my own tree.
Why is there just one present under it? And why is the base of
the trunk as tall as the baby?
This year’s tree seems to have survived its undignified trek through the city streets. I am waiting for Molly to get home to decorate it.

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