My Mother is an Addict

My mother has an addiction. Each year, she must see how far the laws of physics will stretch. She will not be satisfied unless she manages to push them further than the previous year.

Her obsession is with Christmas trees.

Every year of my life (except last year, when we were in Italy), we have had a live Christmas tree. For the past 10 years, it has always been a particular sort of tree, an aibes concolor, from a particular tree farm about a 30 minutes' drive from her house. She loves this particular model of tree (and so do I) because it is resilient--the needles do not drop for a long time as long as it is regularly watered; because it has long but fat needles; because it is a typically dense model; and most importantly, because it smells of oranges. Yes, oranges. Christmas isn't Christmas without a concolor fir.

But every year, she must get a bigger one than the previous year. We've been through tree stands like you wouldn't believe. This year, she really managed to push it.

Mom always goes for an eight foot tree, because the ceiling in her living room is nine feet high. But this year, the tree farm didn't have a lot of trees. Something about deer eating things, and the economy, and crap like that. So if we wanted one that big, we'd have to go out into the field and pick one to cut down. All the trees in the field were 12-18' high, but they said to pick one and they'd sell us the top eight feet.

We found a lovely one and they cut it down and home it went. Foreboding music cue here.

The diameter of the cut trunk ended up being a full three inches bigger than the largest tree stand in our collection, and our collection was (we presumed) quite extensive. After Mother's Husband left (cursing a storm and decrying the whole practice of live trees), Mother convinced me to help her bring it in the house without him, and then figure out the stand issue "later."

The tree is fully nine feet across at the bottom--wider than it is tall. These sorts of things cannot be baled to temporarily reduce their diameters. And we had to squeeze it through the (admittedly large for a front door) four foot wide front door. This took an hour and a half of shoving, pulling, squeezing, and otherwise being mightily unpleasant. Fortunately, being very freshly cut, it was quite resilient and, after much ado, managed to get it's fat ass in the door and lie pathetically on the living room floor.

We first tried a new plastic stand alleged to hold trees "up to 10 feet". This we bought from the Lowe's for $25. It promptly collapsed, plastic rent and twisted beyond all hope in a matter of seconds. So we called a small, local garden store. And they told us about this:

The Last Stand.
They called it "The Last Stand."* As in, the last one you'll ever have to buy. And boy howdy was it.

The thing weighs easily 30 pounds. It's steel. Thick steel. Welded. And the bolts are thick. Really thick. We drilled out a half-inch hole, about one inch deep, in the center of the bottom of the cut stump of the tree, attached the stand, then tipped the tree up. It took all of five minutes. I grabbed the thing and shook it hard and slow to see if it was likely to tip. It was rock solid. If you buy big trees, get one of these stands. It will change your life.**

And so I play enabler to my mother the giant tree addict for yet another year. Here's the tree, complete with decorations and presents. And yes, this is actually how wide it is. I did not stretch the photo for comedic effect.

*Warning: This link goes to what appears to be a vintage 1996 website, complete with embedded midi Christmas music player, cursor-chasing text, and animated GIFs. What the company lacks in web design skills they make up for in yuletide arboreal erection competence.

**The company didn't give me anything at all to get me to say that. We bought ours. We paid less than they charge on the website, because we bought it locally and didn't have to pay for shipping.

Tom G Varik