I think my parents normally buy their Christmas tree around mid-December, but this year, I requested that they do it a little early, during our visit with them. As good hosts, parents and grandparents, they obliged. It's been years and years since I took part in the Christmas tree selection process with still-alive firs in a lot. My wife, who hasn't had a real tree since she was a little girl, and daughter also enjoyed the experience. The trees at the lot were so fresh that they still had unmelted snow on them from the night before up on the mountain.
One of many Christmas tree lots in Morganton, North Carolina. The guy who sold our tree told us about how the prices increased the further east (further from the mountains) you go, and that he's got some relatives that truck them two hours away and make a killing.
I made a casual remark to my wife about how pretty the wreaths were, and she said, "I hate them." She explained that wreaths like that are principally only seen in Spain for funerals and inspire a very negative Pavlovian emotion in her. I bet we could be married for fifty years and still discover quirky cultural differences like that.
Nora had a great time looking at all the trees. The way they dangle them from the 4x4 scaffolding is very clever. Really, the whole process was very well designed, having gone through many iterations and refinement over the years.
We found one!
Our bearded lumberjack vendor explained that it was important to slice off the bottom to form a fresh wound to allow it to better suck up the water and be preserved as it dies a slow festive death in our home.
This was my favorite part of the trip. I love well designed machines. This is a Christmas tree baler. Watch this:
You jam your conifer in this end and turn on the motor. The same motor that spins the twine around the tree also pulls the trunk with a hook.
[make the whirring sound yourself as you scroll]
Voila! A perfectly twine-wrapped Christmas tree.
While we could've probably gotten the thing up on top of the minivan ourselves, it's almost always best to let the person who does it every day all day long do it for you.
When we got it home, due to a busy schedule, we had to leave it outside overnight, where it froze pretty solid in its folded position. When we got it inside and vertical and released the twine, it didn't SPROING! open at all, but slowly and creakily, over the course of several hours in the warmth of the house, spread its branches to its full splendor.
Nora and her grandmother decorated it.
It turned out pretty perfectly. In fact, it was a little too perfect, as at least one dinner guest kept commenting on how realistic plastic trees have gotten. He even sniffed it and concluded:
"Pine scent. Yep, definitely plastic!"