The Wide Angle: Let the symmetry of the perfect tree define the holidays

Published 6:13 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2023

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For all 35 of you that read my column (I kind of lost track where my column count was these days, so if you’re reader No. 58 or something like that, my apologies for leaving you out), let it be known in the spirit of full disclosure that I don’t have much in the way of holiday traditions.

I have a few things here and there, but with what we shall call a “flexible schedule,” it’s hard to really nail it down as a true tradition, and I’m not including cooking Thanksgiving or Christmas meals, which were lovingly gifted to me by my mom a few years back.

Which, in the spirit of even more disclosure, I don’t mind because I really do enjoy cooking.

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The traditions we do have include buying our Christmas tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving at Berg’s Nursery.

The other tradition is watching the one, true “A Christmas Carol,” which we all know by now thanks to yours truly stars George C. Scott. Sure, other versions might be passable, but this version is the best by far and if you disagree — you are, of course, wrong.

The one thing I’ve come to really look forward to when buying our Christmas tree, however, is how sleek our process is. Either we are pros at finding that perfect tree, we’re extremely lucky to the point of it being unlikely, or our expectations are really low.

I like to think we are connoisseurs of the Christmas tree tradition, gauging the perfect nature of a tree as one gauges the perfect chardonnay.

Over the last few years we’ve been able to walk into Berg’s, browse their selection and come away with the tree we’re satisfied with in roughly 10 minutes. Combine that with the efficient way Berg’s staff help us out and we’re in and out in an average time of 20-30 minutes or so with the tree and whatever additions to Christmas we’ve added.

With all of our Christmas goodness purchased, and the tree loaded by Bergs staff themselves, we made it home, which as we all know is where the real adventure begins.

There was a time that when it came to trees, size mattered. I’m not entirely sure where I got this idea, but more often than not our trees were tall, wide and extremely unwieldy when it came to stuffing it through the door and into the house.

There were a couple years when the tree touched the ceiling and with its wide nature, required me to mine my way under it to water it properly. One year, I thought I found coal during the mining process, but then the vein of coal blinked and I realized it was Nemi hiding from Buster.

I wondered where she had been for a two-day period that year.

Gradually, the better half of us suggested going smaller, which I wholeheartedly agreed, shoving the Clark Griswold part of me deep into the shadow places where younger, more confident Erics dwelled.

I found, to nobody’s surprise whatsoever, that the smaller trees were easier in all ways: Easier to get into the house, easier to decorate, easier to water and easier to take down.

This year may have reached perfection.

As usual, we strolled into Berg’s, looking like the experts I thought we were, and spied a short-needled tree that caught my attention immediately. I stood it up, shook the snow off it, and twirled it for good measure.

It was agreed it was a pretty good tree, but we also opted to look around to see what we could find. Ultimately, we came back to this little guy, no more than six-feet tall, and spun it around again.

It’s now standing in our dining room, confusing the cats who question why we’re doing something so silly as bringing foliage into the house.

Honestly, if you will allow me one more disclosure, it’s probably the most perfect tree we’ve ever purchased. The symmetry of the conical formation of its bows just slides into a Hallmark worthy version of a Christmas tree.

Not that I watch the Hallmark Channel mind you.

Honestly, I like it so much I almost don’t want to put lights or decorations on it, but I have because that’s part of the tradition, just as much as it is trying to stop Buster and Nemi from trying to drink out of it, because why would a cat want to drink water in a normal way?

Anyway, that’s about all for disclosures I think. Any more disclosure and I risk being illegal.