As the first snow flurries fell yesterday afternoon in the 2009 blizzard that ruined many people's travel plans, I met someone. A French-Canadian someone. I even took him home with me.
His name is Walter. Please don't say anything about how un-French his name is. He is a little sensitive about it. We tried out Jerome but he responded so much better to Walter. I think his sensitivity stems from being snubbed many times for his lopsidedness:
I told him his lopsidedness is what attracted me to him. That and his soft needles with the silvery underside.
Like many activities, purchasing a Christmas tree is a little bit different in New York City than most places. I've written about my little local tree lot and the hassles of acquiring a tree before but yesterday was such a perfect New York moment, I thought I'd share anyway. It has, after all, been four years since I last had a Christmas tree. I debated and debated whether I wanted to go through the hassle of getting a tree but when I was out running errands yesterday and the snow started falling . . . I knew I needed a tree. Besides, this year I am hosting my parents for Christmas so we have to have a tree, right? Where would we put the presents if not under a tree?
Besides, I have been going out of my way all month to walk along this little stretch of sidewalk where I slow my pace and take deep breaths so that Christmas can waft through me.
There is nothing else in this City like the smell of pine trees stacked up on the sidewalk that can make me slow my pace and take deeper breaths (most smells have the opposite effect on me). Already carrying a couple of bags from holiday shopping, I walked up to my tree guy (the cute one who is there every year) and said "I would like a Christmas tree." He had just failed to convince a stingy man to purchase a lopsided little Fraser Fir at a discount. My tree guy spun the little Fraser around for me and suggested the bad side could be turned toward the wall. I loved it. But I thought it would be better to check out a couple of others before buying the first deformed little tree I looked at. But even as I asked monsieur tree purveyor to pull out various trees and spin them around and explain the different types, I knew Walter was the one.
So I asked him to wrap Walter up while I ran across the street to get more cash at the bank.
(okay fine,I added a bit of extra snow to the photos, but only because the real snow didn't photograph! This is about what it looked like in real life!)
Despite the delivery services offered, I chose to haul my tree home on my own. Why? Because my old friend impatience kicked in. I wanted to go straight home and start trimming my tree, not wait around for it to show up in a few hours at the delivery guy's whim! The trouble wasn't the size or shape of my tree, it was the two other bags I needed to carry and the tree stand I had to purchase that didn't fit in any of my bags. But being the stubborn independent that I am, I trucked off best I could.
Happily, just after I crossed the first intersection facing two long cross-town blocks between me and my front door, a kind stranger offered to grab the back of the tree and walk me to the end of the block. We walked that block in silence at a quick pace with the snow falling faster, weaving between other New Yorkers out to finish their shopping before the promised blizzard arrived. At the end of the block, I thanked my chivalrous helper and he wished me happy holidays and warmth spread in my heart as I thought how untrue the stereotypes of New Yorkers can be. But I still had a block to walk and soon the warmth in my heart was replaced by me simply sweating under my down parka, scarf, hat and thick wool sweater. I stopped repeatedly to readjust my grip on Walter's trunk and to pull the straps of my bags back onto my shoulders and once to switch everything to the opposite side.
Once I was home, I set Walter up in his stand and gave him some water and had some dinner to let him rest a bit before the trimming.
But I didn't have to wait too long before lighting him up and adorning him (a bit haphazardly) with ornaments while listening to Christmas music and watching the snow fall silently outside my window. I didn't have a fire, but I lit a candle to add to the ambiance. I have to admit, it really got me in the mood for Christmas and now I am counting down the days. At least the days until my parents arrive and work ends on Wednesday night. I'm hoping time slows down after that so we can savor it all with Walter keeping us company.