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Commentary | 17
DECEMBER 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net
Family ‘tree-dition’ brings the thrill
of the last-minute Christmas tree
If it’s Thanksgiving weekend and you’re reading this by the glow of your Christmas tree
lights, then you won’t understand.
My family is not one to eat the turkey and trim the tree in the same weekend. We like to
push the envelope around here.
We have our own tradition, which is that is that we wait until the Christmas aisles in the
drugstore are packed up to make way for boxes of Valentine’s candy before we finally pick
out the tree.
The thing is, we’ve always chosen it together. We’d drive
home with the tree strapped to the car, on, perhaps, a brisk De
cember evening, and I’d turn on seasonal music, they’d move
furniture, I’d pour drinks, they’d tarp the floor, I’d make food,
they’d bring in the tree, my husband would pull out the Shop-
Vac, and everyone would scatter.
It was a sweet and manageable tradition when the kids
were all younger, but it’s getting to be increasingly more dif
It’s not that we venture to a tree farm in the Carolinas and
chop it down ourselves. We just try to find an hour that we all
agree on, and that is challenging enough.
Each year, the kids are further away from home and ar
rive later in the month of December, and each year around the
17th, I launch a frantic campaign of texts and WhatsApps de
signed for us to choose a three-hour time slot during which we
can convene for the annual (ahem) tree-dition.
Last year, the appointed day was Dec. 23. We knew that the
tree-nabbing window was quickly closing and we were cut
ting it dangerously close and that pickins would most likely be
slim, but we were fortified by the memory of the Tanenbaum
of 2004, a 12-foot-tall beauty which we bought at Home Depot
on Christmas Eve for 10 bucks.
But last year, you may recall, was an especially wet one
near Christmas, not the ideal conditions for peddling holiday
greenery, and when we finally set out at 7 p.m. to our favorite tree lot (three-quarters of a
mile from our house), we were stunned to find that the lot was completely closed. There was
nary a pine needle in sight. We drove to the next one down the street, and it, too, was closed.
Then, mild panic set in. We called Costco. No trees. Walmart. No trees. Home Depot.
Yes, there were a few left.
We drove in the rain to the tarped lot, where another forlorn family was picking in the
On one side of the tent was a pile of trees, flopped on their sides, sacked out like a group
of diehards on the final night of a three-day music festival.
We picked through the pile, searching for a suitable tree. They were all soaked and puny,
supposedly a bargain at $30. We each scouted around the debris as I got the sinking feeling
that I would have to create a facsimile that season using a bicycle pump and some green felt.
My son eyed a possibility in the midst of the pack and picked it up with one hand, giv
ing it a little shake while needles tinkled to the ground like they did for Charlie Brown’s tree.
The tree-lot guy agreed to 10 bucks for it (basically $2.50 a foot), and we took it home and
mounted it on a stool.
It held approximately 1/154 the amount of ornaments we had, which meant that we dec
orated it in 15 minutes, and - even better -- a few weeks later, it came down in an hour.
Now I know the appeal of a tabletop tree.
And now, I really do feel old.
Robin Conte lives with her
husband in an empty nest
in Dunwoody. To contact
her or to buy her column
collection, “The Best of the
‘The Best of
“The Best of the Nest” offers 49 of Reporter Newspapers
columnist Robin Contes witty essays on suburban
family life, organized by seasons. They include some of
the pieces that won Robin the first-place
Lifestyle/Features Column award in 2017, 2018 and 2019
and first-place for Humorous column in 2018
from the Georgia Press Association.
Order the book at bestolthenest.net
Follow Robin’s book-related appearances at robinconte.com.
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