Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Trees and Wreaths

Wreaths in Bryant Park ready to be put up.
Ever since I moved to New York, I've been conflicted about buying Christmas trees and wreaths. Not because I don't want them, but because they are so expensive here! And worse, they start loosing needles before they've even been paid for.

I guess I'm just spoiled by growing up in New England. Every year, well before Halloween costumes were determined, we would head off to the the Christmas Tree Farm with an old necktie in hand. We'd walk around the fields of trees, and find the perfect tree we loved. Not too tall, not too short... Full, but not too fat... A blue spruce, not a fir, because the branches hold heavy ornaments better... And without a "hole" in the side. Walking around and looking at the trees was part of the fun. Once we found our perfect tree, we'd decorate it with the old necktie to claim it, and head home, but not before ooh-ing and aah-ing over other decorated trees, and marveling at the great choices other families had made. Some families would go all out with decorations -- a few special trees covered with silver tinsel, or dried orange slices, or a few dozen bows, peaking out from the rows and rows of green made walking through the field feel magical.

Later, after Thanksgiving, we would head back to the Christmas Tree Farm with a hand saw and lots of rope and bungee cords. We'd go searching through the rows trying to remember where our tree was, and finally find it. It was like seeing an old friend, and we were joyful that our choice was a good one, and our lovely tree would now be coming home with us.

After tying the tree to the roof (careful to not tie the car doors shut), we'd drive home and then the mess would start -- trying to get the tree into the tree stand. The whole thing is a lot of work, but is so much fun, too.

Here in the city, we have a different, less personal process. We take our usual walks around the neighborhood, smelling the cut greens at the different stands set up with trees, and notice which stands have the best selection and prices. It's tough to be sure one will end up with a tree that is full all the way around, because they are crowded on top of one another, but once one is chosen and wrapped up in plastic, we head home, leaving the tree behind just as we did on the farm, but this time the tree has already been cut, and is not decorated with bows or tinsel. We wait for the tree to be delivered, and still wrestle it into the stand.

The prices of the trees in the city are, understandably, more expensive than in the country, but the worst part is that since they have to be cut days or weeks before we bring them home, they loose their needles before they even get up the stairs to our apartment. The wonderful smell of the cut evergreen has already begun to fade.

While my tree troubles may not be lessened, this year I decided to try out L.L. Bean's Holiday Wreaths. Some are made in Maine, and I looked for one of these, hoping it would be in better shape and last longer than those assembled further away. I chose the Traditional Balsam Wreath, and at $40, it was less expensive than many wreaths offered in my neighborhood.

It arrived today -- isn't it pretty? I'm looking forward to replacing the bow with a big fabric one I love, and hanging it on my door as our first Christmas decoration of the season. The wreath smells so good that I might just decide to skip the tree this year.

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