I can't believe that the day after tomorrow is Christmas Eve! It seems as though the time since Thanksgiving has really gone unnaturally fast ...
We haven't actually been that busy, though. Just the usual routine plus some Christmas activities thrown into the mix. We got the Christmas tree early this year because our friend Bob, who helps us put it up, was leaving for a family trip to Guatemala. It turned out to be more complicated than usual finding a cut tree, however, probably for a variety of reasons.
In the past, when we were all able to walk around easily, we would go out to the country and wander around on a Christmas tree farm, sometimes freezing our butts off, and then pick the tree to cut -- usually it wound up being the first tree we spotted a hour or more before. But maybe those farms have closed because of so many people buying artificial trees. Or they planted new small tree seedlings that were wiped out in the horrendous heat this summer. I know some of the cut trees coming from out West were ruined by drought.
But the tree farm specimens kept getting bigger, too big for our house, so we turned to in-town tree lots for trees that had already been cut. There was one that used to be in the parking lot for Jarlings ice cream that we went to several times.
Then the ice cream shop started staying open longer into the late fall and early winter and the tree lot moved to a location where annuals are sold in the spring. So that's where we headed, only to find nothing there but the empty tables from the spring plant sales.
I thought I remembered U of I forestry students selling trees down near the pomology grounds, but there was nobody there either.
So we went to the C-U Optimists Club tent on Springfield Avenue. What a scam! You'd have to be an optimist to think anybody would fall for it. The guy has maybe 12 trees all together to choose from (remember, this is early, December 9). Six of them are Scotch pine, which I don't like to begin with. They are usually ugly, stick your fingers, and don't hold ornaments well.
These Scotch pines were especially ugly, in fact, having twisted trunks and scrappy bare branches. They looked like the leftovers someone might get as a job lot from a real Christmas tree sale.
Then there were six or so Frazier firs that looked fine but were too tall for our house really. I glanced at the price tag anyway just to see what they cost and my mouth fell open: $120! We told him we needed to look further and where were the other tree lots. He claimed he didn't know and didn't think there were any others ...
So we bought a newpaper while trying to exchange the multicolor lights that turned out to be all red because someone put the wrong package on the wrong shelf (but they were out of the cheap ones already and we had to buy a more expensive kind of course). Unlike prior years, there was NO section in the classified for Christmas trees, either on farms or in town.
We then wondered about Prairie Gardens, the nursery center and craft store on the west side of town. I knew they had expensive and beautifully decorated artificial trees for sale, but didn't know if they did cut trees too, so we called. Yes, nice balsam firs, five-six feet tall, for twenty bucks!
Unfortunately, it was evening by then and the young guy in charge of the trees couldn't saw off the bottom for us. When we got back, we got it in the house and got it mounted in the stand and then remembered the bottom hadn't been cut. Well, it has been very pretty and we really enjoyed it, but it didn't take up any water and now it is soooo dry! I plan to get Sara to help me take it down the day after Christmas.
We did have pretty lights all along the top of the breezeway, part way up the Japanese tree lilac, and on the fence, thanks to Sara. One of the strings even plays Christmas carols! It's probably a surprise to the many dog walkers of our neighborhood, hearing the tinkly sound of Christmas music as they pass our driveway.
Well, I sent the cards the other day and finished the wrapping tonight. Tomorrow we go to the library (closed for our usual Saturday visit) and end the evening with Christmas jazz at Silvercreek with piano by Donnie Heitler and Nick Schroeder (great trumpet player). Christmas Eve we will visit with David's son Christopher and son Jonathan and family and then have a quiet dinner and gift exchange, just the two of us. On Christmas Day, I'm making a ham and Vicki and Frank are joining us.
Merry Christmas to all of my blog readers and Happy New Year!