Since Thanksgiving, I’ve seen a plethora of pictures on Facebook from newly married friends and acquaintances posting evidence of their “First Christmas tree,” their “First Picture of the First String of Lights on their Front Porch of their First Home,” their “First Christmas decoration,” and so on and so forth. Their pictures were storybook perfect; the kind of pictures that seemed to perfectly showcase how perfectly their first home and first months as newlyweds were going (and I’m not saying that sarcastically—I’ve seen some truly beautiful pictures). I’m not a big poster on Facebook, so I had no intentions of similar postings. I did, however, assume we’d at least have a tree.
I didn’t have the highest aspirations for the quality of our first tree. I knew we didn’t have any Christmas lights, and we certainly didn’t have a tree stand. (And who wants to buy all of those things at full price when we know we can get it half off—if not more—the day after Christmas? I had researched how to put up a tree without a stand, and it was entirely feasible.) We do have all of my ornaments (Tanner’s are still in Iowa), but a tree without lights, no matter how pretty or numerous the ornaments, isn’t the most interesting of trees. That was OK, though, as part of the whole “being young and so in love nothing matters” means that you make do with what you’ve got, and it still manages to be beautiful. But the one thing we couldn’t do without was having a tree in the first place.
We talked a lot about where the tree was going to go in the apartment, for we both feared there was no one perfect spot–and, indeed, we were right. We scoped out a spot by the window, but realized that would block the sun. We postulated putting it near the couch, but came to accept that the resulting demolition of our carefully stacked book piles was a deal breaker. Undeterred, we set out the rest of our lovely Christmas decorations and continued the tree location discussion, certain that the right place would reveal itself in due time.
A few days after Thanksgiving, we began to get earnest about procuring the tree. Given that Tanner spends much more time in the city than I do, it was decided that it would be his job to find said tree. Having made this decision, I didn’t question the feasibility of the prospect. After all, it’s Christmas! There are tree sellers on every corner! In my hometown, we have two different tree sellers, both within a two minute drive from our house; in Iowa it was the same way.
Tanner set about his job with seriousness. He looked for trees on his way to and from his four different workplaces and, finding none, inquired among the people with whom he works. They, of course, all commute from outside the city and had no answers that were any use to us city-dwellers. He resorted to Google, but to no avail. As the likelihood of success waned, Tanner kept telling me we weren’t going to have any luck finding a tree within the city, but I continued to think he was crazy. There are so many people in the city, there must be a large market for trees, I thought. And where there’s a market, surely capitalism demands that there will be those individuals who provide. Doesn’t it?
Apparently not. After concluding that Tanner was insane, I took matters into my own hands. I made a few phone calls. I spoke with our landlord, several different grocery stores with huge parking lots—something I thought was a key indicator for tree-selling potential—and was told by all that if I wanted to buy a tree, I had to go to the Wal-Mart, Home Depot, or Lowe’s, all of which were several miles outside the city, and certainly not within walking distance whilst carrying a large Christmas tree. For several reasons, this annoyed me to no end: (a) we’re trying to not drive; (b) it seems terribly annoying to have to rent a Zipcar to go pick up a tree that you’re then scared to put on the roof for fear of scratching the car; (c) our default is the bus, but I don’t think our fellow bus denizens would appreciate us using public transportation to carry home our first Christmas tree; and (d) the whole point of living in a city is that it’s supposed to be possible to walk everywhere. Everywhere!
We continued to try, and to fail, to find ourselves a tree. And here we are, on December 12, still treeless. So yesterday, we decided with a newfound sense of humility that it was time to set our sights a bit lower and accept our limitations as married grownups. Clearly, we’re not able to handle the full tree thing just yet. But fear not! we told ourselves. After all, we’re still quite young, and even if we’re not quite as advanced as the rest of my Facebook friends and acquaintances, a Christmas tree wasn’t necessarily going to bring us up to their level.
In place of a tree, we’re going, now, for our “First Christmas Wreath.” We think it will be beautiful. After all, wreaths don’t demand lights, and, while our small number of ornaments may have looked silly on a bona fide tree, they will more than fill up the wreath’s smaller surface area. Plus, we have plenty of free wall space that will be perfect for hanging our beautiful wreath. So it’s been settled.
The problem, though, is that while we’ve seen people walking in and out of our apartment building carrying wreaths, we haven’t yet figured out from whence they come. So that’ll be this weekend’s project, and we’ll let you know how it goes.
Meanwhile, we’ll continue to take our nighttime walks around the city, peering (creepily, I admit) into the rowhouses of Mt. Vernon (a wonderfully old neighborhood filled with understated, pristine, elegant homes) as we do. We’ve seen some beautifully magnificent trees, all of which were Facebook worthy. We’re taking mental notes. I think if we get our first Christmas tree within the first five years of our marriage, it’ll be an overwhelmingly success. I won’t, however, be posting pictures on Facebook.