Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Because Some Things Are Worth a Splurge

"The Star Won't Fit, and One of the Branches is Broken"

Why I'll Never Let My Husband Talk Me Into Spending Less $$ Again 

"All of the needles keep falling off my tree."

Let's begin here, shall we? Below you can see this journal entry, dictated by my 4-year old daughter to her preschool teacher during her "Weekend Journal" assignment last year (the day after we cut down our Christmas tree). Oh the poor girl. And the worst thing is, I didn't even see this until the journal came home last summer! But you know what, she's pretty darn accurate...

Fast forward one month later:

Oh yeah. She wasn't exaggerating. Needles were everywhere. The most unexpected places. They impaled my feet for months and months after Christmas. It was not a good tree.

I know what you're thinking... "You didn't water your tree enough." But no, that wasn't it. This tree had water, and plenty of it. You see, this tree was doomed from the start... It really didn't stand a chance.

Trees of Christmases Past

Even before we had kids, my husband and I would cut down our own Christmas tree. And every year I look forward to it. In the weeks leading up to it, I entertain vivid fantasies of us frolicking through fields of perfectly-shaped trees, the smell of balsam and evergreen heavy in the air. Together we look at each other and smile as we simultaneously spot the perfect tree to symbolize our jolly holiday season. Ben takes his saw, effortlessly cuts the down tree, and we carry it to our car, laughing all the way.

Then reality hits me... because here's what really happens: It's time to get our tree. And it's freezing. Like, really, really, bitterly cold. And as we walk through the fields, we realize that there are no good trees left. All of the good ones have been taken. And we spend the next 45 minutes arguing over bad tree to worse tree, before we finally settle on the one that has a big hole on one side (which we decide we can hide) and a crooked trunk. But we don't care. Because we just want to go home and get warm. So Ben takes out his saw and lays on the ground and begins to cut into the trunk. And he keeps cutting. And cutting. And cutting.

I ask: "Do you need help?"
His curt reply: "No."
Me: "It's taking a really long time."
Ben: "Yeah, and this saw they gave me is almost completely dull."
Me: "Do you want me to go get help?"
Ben (another curt reply): "No."

And so I sit in frozen silence until the tree comes to an unnaturally slow, snappy fall. Me: "Great. Let's go pay." And we look ahead, remembering we walked a LONG way to get here. And we walked DOWNHILL to get here. And, not surprisingly, the ensuing trek uphill in the bitter cold, carrying the prickliest of all the Christmas trees, does nothing to warm either of our spirits. I don't smell evergreen or balsam. And we're certainly not "laughing all the way." And I remember that we've yet to have that perfect Christmas tree cutting experience.

Christmas Tree Shopping 2009: B2 was born only a few days later!

It's Always Worth the Experience, But Some Years Are Better Than Others!

So last year (being our first in a new area), I did some research and found a great place to cut down a Christmas tree. It advertised hay rides, hot cocoa, and family fun. I was excited. We loaded everyone in the car and began the 20 mile drive to the neighboring town. I didn't give Ben much info... just that all the trees were a flat rate of $60. I ignored his responsive eyebrow raise and turned up the Xmas jams on the radio.

About 15 minutes into the journey, Ben noticed a sign that read, "All Christmas Trees: $40."

He asked: "Is that where we're going?" 
I answered: "No." 
He said: "But this place is $20 cheaper, and it's closer." 
I replied, "But the place I found has hay rides." 
Ben: "Hay rides? It's just a Christmas tree. Why do we need a hay ride? We just did one when we went apple picking. And it's freezing out. The kids aren't going to want to be outside that long." 
Me: "Well... they have bathrooms there, too...." 
Ben: "Bathrooms? Kristen, we're getting a Chrismas tree. Why do we need bathrooms?" 

And that was the turning point. He convinced me. And off we went to the cheapest tree farm on the block.

Oh, he was right about one thing. It was freezing. I noticed that when I got out of the car and scanned the EMPTY parking lot. But whatever. The kids were out of the car now. We were committed. And so we began to venture through the field to find our tree. As we looked, I thought I noticed a yellowish tint on a lot of the trees. Convincing myself it must just be a feature of this particular tree variety, I continued on the search. And just like those times in the past, we had a hard time deciding on our tree, and we hopefully compared tree after tree until finally...

B2: "I have to go potty!"
Me: "Can you wait just a little bit?"
B2 (shifting her weight in a panic from side to side): "I really have to go!"

And I shoot a look at Ben, whose downtrodden eyes told me he had most certainly answered his own question, "Why do we need bathrooms?" And I look back towards the dilapidated barn and hope that somewhere there's a bathroom that we can use... and there was, but that's a disturbing story for yet another day. 

And so, somehow, we get a tree. And we bring it home. And those pics at the start of the post pretty much fill you in on the rest.

Christmas Tree 2012: I can't believe I'm actually smiling after that bathroom experience!

So This Year...

I wasn't having any bargain-shopping. I wanted the full experience, and we had it. We visited Maple Row Tree Farm and had the best Christmas Tree experience to date. This place was the Cadillac of Christmas Tree Farms. They had hayrides (as previously mentioned), warming stations, an abundant selection of sharp saws, and tree drop-off sections placed strategically around the characteristically-New-England, rock-wall-lined farm. The staff was great about recommending trees and pointing us in the right direction through the whole process. And the parking lots (yes, that's PLURAL) were FULL! In fact, people were tailgating! It was like nothing we'd ever seen before. And when we were done with our hay ride, tree chopping, and snack eating, we pulled up the car to the main entrance and simply picked up the tree that we'd chosen and dropped off just 15 minutes earlier. Their system is perfected! Tied the tree to the roof, drove off, and paid the attendant our $65 (plus tax) on the way out. And we were on our happy way. And even Ben admitted it was the better choice. :) You know I just give him a hard time on my blog, don't you? He really is a trooper and a sweetheart.

Look, EVERYONE is happy!!

But Don't Fret; I Know How to Save Some Money Here, Too!

Because I just can't resist a bargain... here's how you can save a little money getting your tree at Maple Row. Notice the sign below? You can save $6 by buying a tree during the week instead of going on a weekend. AND, when you pay, your receipt acts as a $5 coupon for the next year. So who knows, maybe next year we'll save another $11 on our tree?! Not local? Check the tree farms around you and see if they offer a similar deal. Also, the place we used to visit in Dutchess County sends coupons out to people on their mailing list at the start of the season, so give them your info if they ask, and it may pay off the next year.

Visiting The Christmas Tree Farm Will Always Be One of My Favorite Traditions

Because that's the thing about traditions. The experiences may be good or they may be bad, but we remember them either way. And I'll take them all. The dying tree, the tree with the holes that we have to turn to hide, the tree with the trunk too big for the tree stand, and even the tree with the crookedest trunk that makes it impossible to stand without anchoring it to a nearby doorknob (yea, we've had a lot of tree disasters). No tree is perfect, but life's not perfect! And I like it even better that way :) And this year we even got a bonus: a new favorite place to continue our tradition for years to come.

What about you? What are your best (and worst!) Christmas tree memories? Share! Share!

But before you go, I'd LOVE it if you would follow me on Facebook and Pinterest! I'll follow back! :)

Happy Holidays!


  1. OMG ... the first pic is so funny! That reminds me of the first tree my husband (then boyfriend) and I ever got together. After, Christmas we dragged it out of our carpeted apartment. It was super dry and the needles went everywhere. I think we were still trying to get them out of that carpet when we moved out 6 months later;)

    1. Thanks, Ginny! It's the worst, isn't it?! And for some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to scoop up the pile needles under the tree and throw them into the yard. I can't tell you how many times I then walked barefoot through the yard directly onto them!

  2. This is so funny! When I saw the picture and caption, I had to read this because my hubby says I never listen to him, so of course, I had to see what this was all about. Thanks for sharing. Dee :)

    1. Thank you Dee! It's nice to know I'm not the only one ;)

  3. That poor tree from last year. My fiance and I have yet to buy a tree (we've got a fake one this year) but will probably have a real one for our first Christmas as a Mr. and Mrs. Totally good to know about how to spot a good Christmas tree farm.

    1. Oh fun! Congratulations on your engagement, too! The tree-cutting process has always been memorable for us, even if it's just looking back and laughing a less-than-perfect year! Have a great Christmas and thanks for commenting!

  4. I am glad you finally made it to Maple Row! I loved last years story as that was all Easton tree shopping in my youth. Maple Row and the Edwards family got smart! Enjoy!

    1. Thanks, Sharon! Well they've certainly hit the mark--I've never been to such a "fancy" tree farm :) Thanks for commenting, too!

  5. My husband is from Harlem, NYC and so he endured cutting a tree down for a few years. We then went to a faux tree until I wanted FRESH again! We now go to a local "high end" tree farm that have really nice pre-cut trees. The whole process this year took 15 minutes from start to finish! And I got a great tip from the cashier......use hot water to water the keeps the sap liquid so the tree can take in the water keeping it fresher longer! Loved your post......visiting from diy Sunday Showcase.

    1. Hi AnnMarie! We totally considered getting one of the pre-cut ones from Maple Row, too. They were all really nice! I think they probably use some of the best ones for the pre-cut section! It's amazing how well some of the places have the process down! And thanks so much for the tip about the hot water--we will definitely try that now!

  6. Very amusing post - I really enjoyed your treks to get the perfect tree. One year my husband and I picked one out I was doubtful would even fit through the door much less fit in the corner of the den. He insisted it was perfect and to tell the truth it was a beautiful tree. We got it home, he trimmed the trunk, trimmed the trunk, and trimmed the trunk until it finally fit into the house. When we cut the netting off, the tree fluffed out all over the room. That Christmas all guests were crammed into the far corner of the room to make room for the giant perfect tree!

    1. LOL I always think the trees look too small when we're out in the field, and my husband continually reminds me that they look much bigger when we get them inside! That's so funny about the multiple trunk trimming--we've definitely been there! I can imagine all the guests squished on one side of the room to accommodate the tree! Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Really enjoyed reading this post. Found you over at Savvy Southern Style. I would love for you to link this up to my Fall into Fall party going on right now. Hope to see you there.

  8. I don't know if there are cut your own tree places where I are a bit too south I think? But we have gotten them from the lots that pop up every year. Last year, we went to Lowes and I was surprised to find a beautiful, if likely a bit dry, douglas fir for $20. It was about 6ft, which isn't huge but not bad, although a fair bit of the height was that skinny piece sticking up the top that we totally cut down because we think it looks silly to put a topper on that little skinny branch. While I went to pay, the woman working in the garden center took the tree to cut a little off the trunk for me. So I come back and not only has she cut almost a foot off the trunk, but she then proceeded to trim like 6 huge branches off. I didn't realize how bad it was until we got home. I was so mad! I actually found a pretty (although not gorgeous or anything close) tree for $20 and while I expected it to shed like mad and all that, I was pretty pissed that they destroyed it.
    I won't lie...I went to Home Depot this year for another cheap tree and this one is really quite pretty. I made sure to tell them not to cut any branches off. I can trim what we need to make it look perfect at home. Then we got it up and I noticed there is totally a branch growing up in it that looks like a mini tree haha. But for $20, I can't complain. At least they didn't chop it to bits!

    (hopped over from craftastic mondays!)

    1. That is so funny, Jennifer (the mini-tree, that is, not the fact that your tree got slaughtered last year)! I think no matter what, there is going to be something wrong with the tree-none are perfect. But you got yours for $20?! That's amazing! Hope it holds up! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Wow, that tree had some serious issues! We live in northern Michigan where pine trees abound. Almost every year we cut our own tree off the land of a guy my husband works with. Years ago hubby helped him plant those trees so we get them free. Except for one year, we've always had great trees. One year we bought a tree. That tree fell three times, once right between my 4 year and 1 year old children. Fortunately they were not hurt, but several ornaments were. We dubbed it the tree from hell. We ended up bolting it to the wall!

    This year we also bought a tree...and guess what...we had to bolt it to the wall too. Yup, the trunk was as crooked as a dogs hind leg. It fell twice trying to get it up. We will stick to our free trees, that we go out and cut and drag back to the car long as we have our kids around anyway. After they leave it will be artificial all the way baby!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a sweet comment on my rocking chair. Your comments are set to noreply so I tracked you down. Sorry that just sounded wrong! You have a sweet blog. Have a very Merry Christmas, and here's hoping the trees stay upright this year!

    1. HI Deborah! Thanks so much. Laughing about your falling tree stories! But the free trees sound awesome! Such a cool thing that your hubby helped plant them, too! Thanks for letting me know about the no-reply thing! I had switched it before, but it must have reverted when I was playing around with G+ or something. So hard to get the hang of this blogger stuff! Thanks again, and Merry Christmas!!


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