by Barb, at home in Portland, Maine where it’s beginning to look at lot like…
We spent last Christmas at our son’s house in Virginia, so we didn’t put up a tree at home. This year I was surprised to discover that I was as daunted by having to buy a Christmas tree from a new vendor as I was by any of our other moving-related changes.
For years, decades, we bought our Christmas tree from the guy in the parking lot of the IHOP on Soldiers Field Road in Brighton, Massachusetts. All the years our kids were at home, the four of us went to buy it together. It was always, no matter what date we picked, the coldest night of the year, and there was a lot of whining and shivering and fighting about bald spots. Then we would eat a meal at the IHOP (corporate motto: “No matter what you order or how empty we are, your meal will take 45 minutes to deliver”) and complain about that too. It was an important family ritual.
When that finally ran it’s course–because the guy gave up the spot, not because we wavered in our loyalty–we began buying our tree at Pemberton Market on Mass Ave in Cambridge, which was really comfortable because it was where we did the bulk of our grocery shopping.
This year I was at a loss. I kept meaning to ask local friends where to buy a tree, but somehow forgetting. There were trees for sale in the parking lot at the Portland Coop around the corner from our house, but the pickings were slim. So I got on the interwebs and followed the connected tubes to a Christmas tree farm in Cape Elizabeth. We called. They had pre-cut trees, and they had Christmas tree stands, which we needed because we had pitched our old, rusted one in the move. We were on!
Bill and I began our adventure, as all good adventures by retirees should begin, by going to lunch. That part was delightful and we set out for the Christmas tree farm. However, our GPS, perhaps acting in what it considered to be our best interests, started for home instead. We were all the way back to South Portland before we realized it and turned around.
By the time we got to the farm it was late in the afternoon (about 3:00 o’clock this time of year). There weren’t many trees. We were told we were very late (this was more than a week ago). Apparently the cognoscenti arrive Thanksgiving weekend and tag their trees in the field to be cut on their specified date. Who knew? We’re IHOP parking lot people.
But there was a pretty nice tree and we had it cut down so it would fit in our elevator. (Otherwise we would have to take all the pictures off the walls in the stairwells and the hallways to carry it up to our third floor living room, which, believe me, is a pain.) We purchased a tree stand. They only had the largest size, but how could you go wrong with that?
We asked if they would tie the tree onto our car roof. The guy said, no, they couldn’t because–liability, if it came off. Bill and I laughed and joked about how in Massachusetts it’s probably illegal for them NOT to tie your tree on your car, because–liability. The contrast between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ determination to protect you from your own foolishness and the State of Maine’s more laid back attitude of “Good luck to you!” has been a frequent source of amusement for us.
The guy gave us some twine and we passed it back and forth over the tree and the car. Bill complained about my short, tyrannosaurus rex arms and general poor attitude about this kind of thing. I complained about his orangutan arms and need to direct these activities, thinking his uninformed opinions are somehow more valid than my uninformed opinions.
The tree tied on, we were off toward home. Then, about a third of the way over the Casco Bay Bridge, we heard a brrrrup! like twine loosening. I looked out my window and the low afternoon sun cast a shadow on the bridge abutment–of our tree standing straight up on the roof of the car!
Fortunately, there’s a bike lane on the bridge and we were able to pull over. Bill cut the remaining twine and stowed the tree in the back of the car, which is clearly what we should have done in the first place. A nice policeman came along thinking we might be broken down. I’m sure he had a good laugh.
We had more adventures once we got home. The tree stand was broken, so Bill went back again to replace it, and then it was too big for the trunk of the tree, so he went to the hardware store and got another one.
But as you can see from the photo, it all turned out okay. It’s a little skinny and short for my taste, but we’ll do better next time I’m pretty sure.