Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all thirty feet tall.
Growing up on a farm in Indiana, we always had an artificial tree at Christmas. Which seems a little odd looking back, but of course at the time I thought nothing of it. I loved the tree we put up every year, and enjoyed laying with my head underneath, looking up through the branches at the lights.
Now that I live in the city, somewhat ironically, we have a live tree every Christmas. A day or two before Thanksgiving, the tree people (as we fondly call them) arrive and start building the large wooden A-frame supports which will hold up the trees – which must arrive on Thanksgiving but never appear until the morning after, almost as if by magic. Some are set up for display, others wrapped and stacked together. The smell is fantastic, as if evergreen forests have taken up residence outside every Starbucks and CVS in the city – which means at least one every block. We love the tree people. They hail from as far away as Alaska. Some come down from various parts of Canada. All of them work for the companies that grow the trees and spend the month or so between Thanksgiving and Christmas living out of the back of vans and pickup trucks with camper cabs on them, 24 hours a day, selling trees. It’s the tree people who taught Maya and Ben how to count the rings on the tree’s trunk to see how old it is. When you buy a tree, they slice off a small part of the trunk so that the tree will easily absorb water from your tree stand, and last year they gave us the slice of trunk they cut off, and explained about the rings. Which Maya and Ben thought was super cool.
The tree people have a mystique about them; they travel for thousands of miles to bring us trees and live on the street, only to disappear again without a trace on Christmas Day. Nothing seems to phase them. They are out in all weather, and never seem bothered by the rain or cold. They are universally easy going and friendly. When business is slow, they take twigs and twine and make stars which they hang on the displayed trees; some make and sell wreaths as well. One year I spoke to a woman who said they make the majority of their income for the entire year during these few weeks, and always spend Christmas Day on the road, driving back to Alaska.
We plan to buy our tree on Monday. Some of the tree stands have ‘free delivery’ signs up this year, but lugging the thing home is part of the fun (in a perverse ‘wow that was really heavy’ kind of way). We get to enjoy the smells of the pine forest for a few weeks. Part of the magic of the season in the city, all thanks to the tree people.