Sometime around December 15, my mother invariably would ask me to accompany her to the equivalent of a tree lot under the porticoes, to choose a Christmas tree. The decision-making centered around its height as there was only one variety available. The man manning the stand would walk us back home and deliver the tree to our doorstep and then it was just a matter of untangling the lights and unpacking the ornaments.
Last Sunday, when I finally dragged my butt to the Home Depot Christmas tree lot, I was confronted with four varieties. If I lived in a Martha Stewart world, I would find the choice reductive but, to my little self, whose only interest in a Christmas tree is the festive atmosphere it lends to the living room, it was akin to the first time I saw a cereal aisle in an American supermarket. What do I get?
I started comparing Douglas, Noble and Spruce until I encountered the Nordmann. From the mostly unopened drawers of my memory, I retrieved a tidbit of information I thought I came upon some time ago, something to do about the Nordmann being a Californian variety (if it wasn’t the Nordmann, it definitely started with an N). My environmental conscious self does feel bad about tracking home a cut tree that, in three weeks, will be fodder for the recycling bin but, as pine trees are highly flammable, buying a live one and then planting it around where I live, in a high fire danger area, it is not an option. Nor is the made in China plastic one which, if discarded, will take over 20 years to recycle (or so I read – I put too much faith in what I read) – furthermore, the absence of live tree smell does not make the holiday worthwhile. To appease my conscience, I shelled out a couple of dollars more than a Douglas would have cost me and installed this Californian Nordmann character in my living room.
Subsequently, scouring the omniscient internet, I found out the Nordmann is a favourite European variety, prized for the dark green and soft branches, so I might have unwittingly been channelling my inner child. Ottie, being a Christmas veteran and familiar with the routine, settled on the rug in front of the fireplace, knowing he was in for a 90 minute treat of me un-spooling light cords, swearing under my breath and getting all excited about placing the ornaments on the branches. Portia, on the other hand, feigned disinterest and stayed in the kitchen but I know it’s an act or maybe she remembers the dressing down she received last year, her first Christmas, after she broke 3 ornaments and ate all the gifts. If the memory is enough to keep her away from the tree forevermore, I will be grateful.
This Nordmann variety might be pretty indeed but I soon realized a major drawback. The tree does not smell. I got gypped of my festive pine branch aroma that welcomes me when I get up or when I come home for those two holiday weeks. I was sniffing the branches really hard, thinking my nasal passages might be clogged but no, nada. I brought home a deodorized and sanitized tree. But with high needle retention, or so the website said.
Nordmann and I are stuck for this holiday season and I will have to make the best of it. Next year, I am going back to Douglas.