ONTD Political

Christmas... tree surgery!

6:16 am - 12/25/2012
I starved my Christmas tree of water, so fir surgery was called for to save the holiday.


I'm writing you from the scene of Christmas tree surgery.

It wasn't pretty. But it had to be done.

The Fraser fir came home with us two Saturdays ago, and spent its first week in our home sitting bushily in the corner of the den. The couch moved over to make room. The rug gathered pine needles. The tree drank a gallon of water a day.

And then I tried to kill it.

It wasn't intentional. I'm not some Grinch who waited for the moment to strike, or Charlie Brown, who could never pick a healthy tree anyway. But this weekend, between brunch, Christmas shopping, and a late dinner on the lower East Side, I let the tree run dry.

The Christmas tree message boards; an active online community; caution against this sort of thing. "With proper care, a tree should last five weeks," they say. "But, whatever you do, don't stop watering. Even ONE DAY will do it."

Exposed to hours of air, the cut end of the trunk had sealed itself over with sap. I added more water and crossed my fingers. Nothing. My tree was on a hunger strike.

"Don't worry about it," said Chris. "We only have two weeks left anyway."

But I couldn't help feeling the tree's pain. What I'd done was tantamount to letting a holiday party run out of punch.

Only that morning the tree had been admired by our brunch guests, and Chris' mom was sending ornaments from his childhood.

What was I going to do when they arrived? Hang them on bare, brittle branches, scattering what needles hadn't already dropped?

Monday morning, as soon as Chris had headed for the office, I went to the hardware store. The clerk rang up a drop cloth and a handsaw; a shopping list that seemed more "American Psycho" than "It's a Wonderful Life", but I was on a mission.

Walking back through Carroll Gardens, where the homes and storefronts were festooned with every conceivable garland and bauble, I remembered other Christmas trees I'd known.

There were the ones I helped my dad cut down, the one my friend Mia hauled up six flights of stairs to the apartment we shared, and the first I bought with Chris, back in 2009, the one we stuffed in the back of a Toyota Matrix Zip Car for the trip home.

Chris hadn't especially loved Christmas back then, or at least not at my holly jolly level of mania. But a tree became our prized tradition, and this year he was the one scouting the sidewalk lots before November had even come to a close.

With the drop cloth spread out on the living room rug, I heaved the seven-foot fir from its stand, toppled it on its side, and sawed a half-inch coaster from the bottom of the trunk. In a storm of needles and shatterproof ornaments, I lugged it upright again and, a few minutes later, fed it three carafes of perfectly lukewarm water.

The room was silent but for the burbling of the coffee maker. The street was empty outside. I plugged in the lights and sat for a moment, the aroma of the woods wafting around me.

"You were very brave," I said to the tree. "And no one will miss that half inch."

Graphic surgery picture at the source Considering the news that's been posted so far, I needed a lighthearted Christmas story.

Seriously, though, who gets a live tree two weeks before the holiday?
martyfan 25th-Dec-2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
Um, what's wrong with two weeks before the holiday? That gives you plenty of time to set it up and decorate it.
skittish_derby 25th-Dec-2012 02:37 pm (UTC)
and enjoy it.
hinoema 25th-Dec-2012 02:49 pm (UTC)
True... I'm just one of those people who loves Christmas- for a week, tops. Then it's like "Ok, enough of that noise."
kitbug 25th-Dec-2012 04:52 pm (UTC)
We just got ours five days ago because Mom wanted to go get it with us kids after we got home for the holiday. It's tradition that we get the tree together and we're doing that as long as possible.
coyotesuspect 25th-Dec-2012 06:41 pm (UTC)
My family's always gotten our tree the first week of December. And my roommates and I decided to get a tree this year too, and got it right after Thanksgiving. It was lovely to have through finals. I don't understand people who wait to get their tree - it's such a lovely and happy-making thing for me!
maladaptive 25th-Dec-2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
I put my tree up the day after Thanksgiving. But it's fake and I love looking at my ornaments. I just look at my tree and go "damn I have awesome taste." Since I avoid baubles and knick-knacks (try to) it allows me to indulge in having them without them cluttering the apartment. Two weeks is not enough time to indulge my narcissism re: my ability to get cool materialistic junk.

Edited at 2012-12-25 07:36 pm (UTC)
dragonflyxwings 25th-Dec-2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
Word. A d if you wait, they're dirt cheap. We got our about eight days ago - about 7.5 feet and FAT for $20. We're both working today and weren't going to bother this year, but my husband couldnt pass it up.
chasingtides 26th-Dec-2012 12:58 pm (UTC)
This. My family would always go and chop one down the Saturday after Thanksgiving - plenty of time to enjoy it, fill the place with the scent of tree, etc.
glass_houses 26th-Dec-2012 03:34 pm (UTC)
This. The one time my bf and I had our own tree together, we got it about 2 weeks before. I thought that was the norm.
bnmc2005 25th-Dec-2012 06:31 pm (UTC)
Cute story ... and I learned something. Thanks!
the_physicist 26th-Dec-2012 05:19 pm (UTC)
yeah, i had no idea you were meant to water Christmas trees. thank hell my flat is too small for a tree. i would have bought one and then it would have died, because i would never have thought to water it.
tabaqui 25th-Dec-2012 07:06 pm (UTC)
Heee. I kind of did the same to our cedar. But cedar's sort of stop drinking after a while, anyway. Sadly, dried-out cedar is even *more* of an allergen to my skin than healthy cedar. Getting the ornaments off will be fun!

Happy Christmas and Merry New Year, ONTD_P! :)
dragonflyxwings 25th-Dec-2012 07:40 pm (UTC)
I just sent an OMG DID YOU WATER THE TREE??? text to the husband. Lol
the_glow_worm 25th-Dec-2012 09:10 pm (UTC)
"You were very brave," I said to the tree. "And no one will miss that half inch."


AAWWWWW
zeonchar 25th-Dec-2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
It really bothers me that people cut down trees for Christmas. I know they have farms where they grow them for this purpose but why can't people just get fake trees? They looks just as good. They could also get a potted Christmas tree that they are not going to throw out the day after Christmas. The whole tradition seems a little barbaric to me.
romp 25th-Dec-2012 09:35 pm (UTC)
I don't like to admit to that level of sentimentality but I feel the same. Some of my best friends growing up were trees.

Christmas trees are grown simply to cut down, as you say--not unlike much of the wood around us--but still, ouch. It's really not much different from orchards that grow for a few years and are replaced so we're participating in the same when we eat plums, almonds, etc.

It does bum me out though so I finally got a fake tree to my shock and horror. But we're really in it for the lights and ornaments anyway--the one drawback is the lack of piney smell but I can drive 25 minutes and be in a cedar forest so I get by.
romp 25th-Dec-2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
No one in my family can remember to water a tree...or houseplant which is why we have none.

My parents bought a live evergreen in a container and brought it inside every December until it got too big and then it got planted in the yard and they bought another. By the time I left home, one was a 10' blue spruce. I'd like to do that but haven't managed it yet.
encircleme 25th-Dec-2012 09:49 pm (UTC)
My mom keeps buying me potted plants for my house. They keep dying because I forget they exist and don't water them or I overwater them in hopes of keeping them alive. It's ridiculous.
moonbladem 25th-Dec-2012 09:55 pm (UTC)
We've only bought a real tree once. I loved the pine scent but the entire time, I felt bad about contributing to the death of a tree so after that, we bought a fiber optic tree.

Happy Holidays to all!



Edited at 2012-12-25 09:56 pm (UTC)
betray802 26th-Dec-2012 06:16 am (UTC)
Bahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
simply_blah 25th-Dec-2012 10:58 pm (UTC)
What an adorable story.
herongale 26th-Dec-2012 01:01 am (UTC)
FYI, they already had the tree two weeks by the time it dried out, and there were still two weeks until Christmas. So they got the tree a month prior to Christmas, not just two weeks previous.
fenris_lorsrai 26th-Dec-2012 05:08 am (UTC)
Last year we had to have a rather LARGE tree taken down and I bought a replacement horse chestnut for it at end of season ($20 for a 6' live tree!)... but the take down of diseased tree was delayed until after the ground froze. so my horse chestnut sat on our plasticed over front porch for the winter. I came home from work the week before Christmas and found Dad had stung lights on it.

we had regular tree inside as well, but we also had the ridonculus live horse chestnut in a pot on the front porch in the cold. which did look rather like the Charlie Brown tree as it had no leaves on it at time.


The horse chestnut is now doing just fine, planted in ground at store where the old tree came down. I did not stick lights on it this year as I couldn't figure out how to run power to it.
romp 26th-Dec-2012 07:48 am (UTC)
That's lovely! We talk about getting a lemon tree that would move indoors during winter...
skellington1 26th-Dec-2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
One year I borrowed my mom's potted kumquat to be my indoor tree. :P Sadly, the kumquat was temperamental and met its demise a few years later.

Also, $20 for a 6' tree is a steal! So awesome when you can get a landscape size plant without breaking the bank. I put in a nine foot vinemaple last year, and was absolutely thrilled to finally discover the nursery all the landscapers go to -- they do ONE wholesale-price sale a month, and my 9' tree was $50. :D
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