Interesting pandemic side story: Christmas tree shortage. Along with pretty much every other item consumed by a shopping population, there is a problem with live/real Christmas tree inventory. In conversations with people who own tree farms, they say it actually started years ago when interest in real trees waned. Farm owners planted fewer trees year after year.
Suddenly, in 2020, more people than usual were staying home and in record numbers they wanted real trees. I noticed it was a problem last year, and only by luck did I find a tree the size I wanted – I did not get to choose the type. I saw plenty of little trees, but I like them big, as you can read in this old post about one of our trees.
This year I saw U-Cut Christmas tree places closing the first week of December: already out of inventory, with only baby trees left. The place we went had a whole bunch of 4-foot-high trees, and four 11-foot-high trees. Nothing in between, and 11 feet is too tall. I guess if you are happy with a little one, then this is not a tree shortage. I would have wanted to get back in the car and drive to another place and see if the selection was better, except that the type of 11″ trees lying on the ground here were perfect. Those stiff, sturdy branches that can hold my ridiculously heavy ornaments without bending too much.
One of Pedro’s sons was with us (the other twin was at Disneyland, but this one is not a fan of that much stimulation), and it was cold and raining. We decided to try to make it work. I bought the best of the giant trees and asked them to cut the top and the bottom, so it was closer to 8 feet. It was a somewhat wonky tree, but I thought it would end up pretty anyway. The company was kind enough to lash it to my Jeep for us while we paid for the tree and then ate complimentary snickerdoodles and drank complimentary hot cocoa. When we got home we had to set it up right in the middle of the room where the vaulted ceilings could handle the height.
I call it a wonky tree because it has two tops. You can see in the naked tree pic, where two tree trunks rise to the top. The main trunk has a curve where a previous extra trunk was cut off years earlier. Also, it’s gorgeous and bushy in the middle, but the branches are short at the bottom. It’s a pear-shaped tree. There was one particularly big hole at the bottom, created because there were no branches at all. Fortunately, I knew Pedro had one gigantic wrapped gift for me at his house. I asked him to bring it over and I plugged the hole. You can see the giant gift (with Charlie Brown wrapping paper) on the right hand side of the tree in the photo above.
This Christmas I was spoiled when both Tara and Pedro came to stay with me. T was here four days and P was here seven days. It was their best Christmas present to me.
Our family has always valued stockings as the first and most important part of gift-giving at Christmas. My dad’s contribution to the tradition is that tangerines go into the toes to keep them round. I tried to use oranges this year but they were too big and could barely fit. Next year, back to tangerines. My mom’s contribution is that something appealing must stick out the top. I know you see mostly candy in the picture above, but the socks are packed with tiny gifts that Tara and I ideally will collect or make all year long. When I was a kid, I remember my parents sometimes didn’t have enough to fill a sock and had a hard time getting something to appear out of the top without slipping back inside. Here you see we went overboard and couldn’t fit everything in.
Christmas Day the temperature dropped, and a promise of real, actual snow was in the forecast. I heat with wood, so we were all chilly till I got the fire going.
We made the most of our gift exchange, taking turns with our stockings, appreciating each tiny treasure, one at a time. Remembering stories for why the things were special, and talking about what our plans were for each one. Stockings empty, we did the same with wrapped gifts. This took us a couple of hours and two pots of coffee. After that we ate a big breakfast!
But look at that empty box in the photo above. That is what was inside the big Charlie Brown box. A new Air Fryer/Oven/Toaster Oven from Pedro!! I’m so excited. I’ve been thinking about getting one of these for more than a year, but just couldn’t decide. I got a nudge. Now I can hardly wait to try it out. It fries things with almost no oil, so you can make all those tasty crunchy things without the calories or the upset tummy from too much saturated fats.
It began snowing that night, and the day after Christmas, there was snow! And then it kept snowing. And day after day while the temperatures remained below freezing, it just kept snowing. The snow was mostly right here on my mountain, and for anyone to get down to the better roads in Portland and Corvallis, they had to get off my mountain with its steep hills. It was a little scary to get my guests out of here safely, but I can report that both Tara and Pedro are now safe in their own homes where there is no snow.
Here, however, there is still tons of snow. In fact, it is snowing right now, as I write. I’ll post pictures soon. Love you all, and Merry belated Christmas and since today is New Year’s Eve…Happy New Year!! Here’s hoping that 2022 will be the year when we get on top of this virus and begin easier lives with more hope and more joy.