I have always had a "live" Christmas tree, certainly all the years growing up when I lived at home. There were artificial trees out there but they were mostly metal or flocked and I always thought they were horrendous.
Even when more natural looking Christmas trees were introduced, I thought they were awful. Why would you spend any money for a tree that doesn't smell like a real tree? I was perfectly happy to accept all those things that people used as excuses to buy an artificial tree. I was happy to sweep up all the fallen needles. I was happy to crawl around on the floor with a pitcher of water to make sure the base of the tree sat in 3" of water. I was happy to put the lights on the tree.
Well, now, hang on. I should probably say something about my issue with the lights. I know exactly how the lights should be put on the tree and for some odd reason, no one else in my family could master the process. Each and every branch needs to be wrapped with lights. It was as simple as that. Let me repeat it for you. Each and every branch needs to be wrapped with lights. How hard a concept is that? Ah, yes. This was one of my few moments of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
What happened, of course, is that we could go out as a family and find or cut down a beautiful tree. We could enjoy the drive home with the huge lush green thing in the back of the truck. We could toast our luck at finding the perfect tree. We could work cooperatively to get the tree out of the truck, into the house and into it's perfectly balanced stand. Then I would look up and everyone was gone. Not one member of my family wanted to be in the house while I was putting the lights on. It's not that I was a raving lunatic... OK. Maybe I was a raving lunatic.
That's the issue that put me over the edge. I got to the point where I couldn't stand the thought of worrying about those damned lights for one more Christmas. I could have just let go of my obsession with the lights but instead we bought an artificial Christmas tree. We spent what seemed like a small fortune for a pre-lit 7' tall tree. As soon as it came, I had buyer's remorse. Why had I not ordered the 10' tree since we have 11' ceilings in our house? Well, the answer was obvious. We would have needed a second mortgage on the house to afford it. And does the top of the tree really need to brush the ceiling? No. No, it doesn't.
All of this brings me to the point of this note. No matter how realistic the newer artificial trees look, they do not smell like real live trees. So last summer when I was visiting my friend Nancy Whitbeck in Maine, I was thrilled to find Paine's Balsam Fir. This is ground up Balsam Fir that smells just like Christmas. You could fill a pillow or a sachet with it or just put out a small bowl and spread the smell of Christmas throughout the house. I bought a pound of the stuff. It's the kind of thing you double or triple bag so it won't fill up the entire airport with balsam fir smell. I did that. And packed it safely in my luggage for the trip home. I unpacked it and carefully put it away for Christmas.
Months pass and we are getting ready for Christmas. We unpacked all our decorations, put up the tree - which only takes about 5 minutes, does not require water or a broom and always looks wonderful which makes me very happy. We get the entire house decorated. Now it's time for the Balsam Fir to add the finishing touch - that wonderful Christmas smell. Can you guess? Of course you can. I couldn't find it anywhere. I basically ripped the house apart and still couldn't find it. It wasn't in any closet or cupboard, in any drawer or on any shelf. I even called Nancy to make sure I hadn't left it in Maine. You may notice the similarity to our three day search for the TV remote that was sitting in a drawer right next to my chair the entire time. We are nothing if not consistent.
Just last week I asked Ron to get something for me out of the front closet. He came back into the living room holding the bag of Balsam Fir. Seriously?!? I couldn't believe it. At some point I had put it on top of the grandfather clock that sits in the front hall next to the closet. I probably had one too many things in my hands at the time and just set it out of the way. I would never have stored it there on purpose.
I'm all ready for Christmas 2018. We have a lovely tree that isn't as tall as the ceiling but is stunning and beautifully lit. But what do I do with the Balsam Fir now? I'm afraid to put it away again.