This year we had it in our minds that we would forego the corner Christmas tree lot, and make a trip out to a tree farm where we would make some yuletide family memories with a chainsaw and some rope.
We packed up the kids, headed northwest a couple of hours until we found a tree farm that promised some sort of forestry-approved, reasonably environmentally-responsible trees.
Upon pulling in, we noticed the trees didn’t resemble the ones we typically spent way too much on for being cut sometime around Labor Day and bundled in cold storage until their branches petrified–these were of a softer, gentler needle. Sort of like feather dusters. Or deadly anemones.
We were greeted by the owner of the farm who explained their practices and the way things were done–4 fields of different varieties of trees that would be cut by their staff when we chose one, replaced by more several more when it left. She handed us a color-coded price sheet which my husband and I exchanged looks of shock–the largest tree was literally hundreds less than what we have paid in years past.
This is when things started heading south–much as where we should have gone to the nearest Target for an artificial tree.
Because they were an organic farm, no pesticides were used. (Good!) Instead, they relied on more “natural” methods. (Also good.) She held out a small brown ball that looked like a cross between a pine cone and a hazelnut. It was an egg sack from the praying mantises that lived here and they were all over the trees doing what they do. (Good, I guess.) They would be removed from the tree when we bought it, but in case any were missed we should remove them ourselves. (Wait, what?) And if we all missed any egg sacks, not to worry, they would hatch and die after about two days. (Oh, hell no.) But not to worry still, “they don’t bite.”
The kids were thrilled, we were horrified, but trudged on nonetheless. The trees were of a much different variety than what would be considered “traditional Christmas.” They were of varying sizes–from 6 inches to 600 feet. We tried to find something in the middle that wasn’t already decorated with squirrels, birds’ nests, bee hives and of course, large egg sacks–but those naturally unadorned trees were tough to come by. “I think we have to switch up our standards this year,” I said to my husband after about an hour. “How about just picking the least likely to kill us in our sleep,” he replied as the Lorax ran across our path.
Perhaps it was as simple as when choosing your own lobster from a tank and dinner seems less appetizing once you see it with rubber bands on its claws. Or maybe the tree just objected to being relocated from some sort of burial ground. Or maybe it was a curse from some very pissed off elves who couldn’t bake cookies there anymore; but some metaphysical phenomena happened on the way home with the Christmas tree.
I don’t know if much of the tree blew off the top of the car (along with dozens of bug larvae I hope) or if we bought it that way, but by the time we got it home and up half of the absolutely gigantic tree was gone. Literally 50% of the branches no longer had any needles on them. There was no “wall side” of the tree, there was “Oh God, what closet is big enough to hide that log pile in?” sides. Charlie Brown tree? This was the Buster Brown tree–it looked like someone had walked all over it in bad shoes. Or the Bobbi Brown tree that no amount of make-up could hide its hideousness. And perhaps more identifiable with Leroy Brown–it looked like a jigsaw puzzle with more than a couple of pieces gone.
I tried to polish the tur..ahem, tree, by putting lights on it. A lot more lights. Enough to blind on-lookers so they wouldn’t turn to stone. The good news was that the thing was still ginormous–plenty big enough for Santa to leave lots of presents under, like an industrial drum of sap remover and stronger eyeglass prescriptions. But I fear no amount of decorations are helping to disguise the tree’s physical and maybe even spiritual deficiencies. So far the reactions of the few that have lived to see it have been, “Your tree terrifies me.” And “It makes me sad,” “Bless your heart,” and “Mommy, did the tree just move by itself?” accompanied by tears. What started out as Yuletide fun has quickly deteriorated into a “Yule be sooorrryyy,” from a little ghost girl’s voice from inside the tree.
I pen this not only as a cautionary tale to I don’t know exactly what, but mostly because I’m home alone with the tree right now and want some written record of my existence. It’s already sucked up a few gallons of holy water, but I’m not sure that will prevent the spontaneous combustion that will most likely occur. I ask not for your pity or worry, just a request that if you are so inclined, please pray for me.
As I know the thousands of mantises I hear hatching in my living room are at this very minute.
©2013 Tracey Henry