A real Christmas Tree*

3 Dec

* My real Christmas tree was a gift from The Christmas Tree Truck, through Her Canberra. All opinions are my own.

My early Christmas memories are of sugar cookies, plastic (but tasteful) miniature Santa sleighs filled with chocolate coins placed at heights just out of reach of little hands, candles shaped as snowmen, and the biggest Christmas tree imaginable with unique decorations.

As I grew up, that large Christmas tree shrunk. And shrunk. As a teenager I towered over it; as I grew, the magic of Christmas seemed to decrease.

Having lived in Canberra now for just on seven years (how did that happen?), I’ve still never spent a Christmas here, with the promise of Christmases at home – or, more recently, hurried trips abroad – too strong. Having lived in three apartments and one townhouse since I moved here has also provided me with a convenient excuse to not set anything up, arguing the spaces are “too small”.

That changes this year when new business, the Christmas Tree Truck, offer me my very own real tree. Well, kind of changes. I’m sceptical, but it forces me to rethink why I hadn’t got a tree in the past. Was it because I couldn’t be bothered? And is a real tree going to last long enough? Is it going to be way too big for the apartment? Will I kill it like most other non-self-sufficient flora in and around our house? What if the magic isn’t restored?

I put my concerns aside and agree to go the whole hog and get the standard package: a six foot Christmas tree, beautifully shaped, with a stand. On Saturday morning I clear a space in the living room and wait for my Christmas tree.

The doorbell rings and Cooper knows we’ve got a guest (little does he actually know). And there they are. And there it is.

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And it is definitely bigger than me.

The tree has been brought in on the eponymous truck.

The trees are kept in netting on the truck so they maintain their shape

In the back are trees of all different shapes and sizes. The traditional Christmas trees that I’m lucky enough to get are their most popular product, but littler ones are also getting a good run this year. With their convenient size and no mess it’s easy to see why.

Back in my apartment, my big tree’s about to take up semi-permanent residence. On arrival it’s been pulled out of its netting and secured on the base to help the carrying and easy installation, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less awkward to lift – I can see the hassle and why it’s worth having a business remove the difficulty of it all.

Inside the space I’ve cleared is just the right size. As Cooper inspects, the tree is readjusted in its stable base so it stands exactly straight. Even though it’s a small base it ably holds the huge tree.

All set in, the lads pick up a few of the needles which have shed and oblige me with a quick pic (which assists for scale!).

I’m left with simple instructions on a handy fridge magnet: keep the base filled with water, and after a week or so cut some marks into the tree to help it to keep drinking up the water. We quickly learn that while the tree might like a drink, Cooper does too: the base turns into a convenient water bowl for him and needs a bit of extra topping up!

Boyfriend arrives home and at one point spots me hugging it, with my face buried deep… uh, yeah. I can’t really explain it. It’s difficult to properly describe what a difference having some that is tangibly real makes.

But it can’t stay bare for long. Owning just one decoration between us, we head down to the mall to see what we can purchase. The first stop is the Reject Shop. While you might raise your eyebrows, we buy a pack of 100 different sized baubles for $10 – pretty good value. In Myer we buy candy canes and blue stars for a few dollars because of their Christmas decoration sale, and at Coles I buy some more baubles ($4 for eight in a pack) and some soft cloth decorations ($1) each). At one point I realise we’ve got absolutely no colour scheme in mind, but hope for the best.

Back home, our tree decorating is delayed by a 30 minute conversation about whether the lights go on first or last, followed by a discussion on whether the lights will be problematic on a real tree. I’ve bought the lights for $29 from the Christmas Tree Truck so figure they do know best, and give in to Boyfriend’s insistence that the lights go on first (I swear that’s not right).

Next is the strings of beads (what are these actually called?). It’s not so neat but I quell my urge to redo it.

ABC Victorian election coverage for scale.

And then: the baubles. The many, many baubles. The Coles ones require us to string and tie the strings in the baubles which is a level of tedium I haven’t accounted for. While I’m stringing Boyfriend is baubling (?) without regard for the colours and I’m ashamed to say I pull some off and redo them to satisfy some sad need for evenly spaced coloured baubles. Fortunately I am forgiven.

Finally it’s time for the few ornaments we have.

I’m surprised how good it looks – I attribute most of this to the lush tree rather than the elegantly placed ornaments.

And, lights!

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A few days later, we’ve made a few minor changes. Our decorating meant the tree shed a lot of needles and we feared this would be a theme for the next four weeks so bought it a little mat ($7 tablecloth from the Reject Shop). I’m not sure if it’s the surety of the mat or simply not interfering with the tree, but no needles have dropped since we put down the mat on Sunday. While at the Reject Shop Boyfriend bought some candy canes which have been strategically popped into the tree at a height Cooper can’t reach (we hope).

Cooper has got used to the tree and is still enjoying using the stand as an alternative water bowl. The lights have a mixed mode; it took us a few days to work out that we could control it and make them shine a little smoother. Right now we’ve got it on the mode where the colours of the lights are mixed but they don’t change. After a few muggy and hot days there’s been no change to the tree’s health.

For a sceptic, I think it looks amazing – I’d go so far to say I’m quite proud.

Most surprising to me is that its originally curly top (scroll back up) has completely straightened. We might have to get a topper for it after all. With the smell, the house lights off and the Christmas tree lights twinkling, a glass of Cointreau, and Fairytale of New York through the speakers – well, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

UPDATE: Now marks my second year with a REAL Christmas tree. It even has a few ornaments we bought in northern Europe over Christmas last year which makes it extra special. This time, it was a simple matter of placing the order on the website.

A six foot Christmas tree costs $194 including the stand and removal. If you have a stand from previous years and if you are happy to remove it yourself (surely this is the most painful part of all!) it’s significantly cheaper.

For me, it’s worth coming home every day to a Christmas tree smell. Together with The Pogues and the lights, it’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas.

Date: From Saturday, 29 November 2014.

Cost: The $189 six foot Christmas tree is courtesy of The Christmas Tree Truck, through HerCanberra. The lights were purchased from the Christmas Tree Truck for $29. The baubles cost about $20. The strings of beads cost about $10. The other ornaments cost about $25. (Remember we started with literally nothing!).

Value for money: High. I’ve always thought that real Christmas trees have a likelihood of being a real let down, but it’s  easy to see just how lush the tree is. The length it lasts, the smell, the height and the width all equal good value for money to me. It’s the shape that really gets me. It’s perfect.

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile.

Want more? Contact The Christmas Tree Truck here. They are delivering fresh Christmas trees right up until 24 December and as part of the package they offer delivery and pick up once it’s time to say goodbye to it.

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2 Responses to “A real Christmas Tree*”

  1. The Food Marshall December 4, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    Look great Tara! First real tree, I’m very envious.

  2. lizzygoodthings December 5, 2014 at 8:02 am #

    Tara, I am closing my eyes and remembering the scent of a REAL Christmas tree… so nice. Enjoy this… I said no to the offer as we have a couple of trees, one large, one small… not sure I’ll get around to putting them up… perhaps I should.

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