My husband and I received a free Christmas tree. "Received" isn't quite the correct word. We don't actually have it. We have to go get it. Tomorrow. During the Ducks' Civil War game. And for ironic fun, we won't actually be keeping it. You see, I'm allergic. As in break out in hives, stop breathing, wheeze in a pitch only dogs can hear allergic.
We have a fake tree. Much to my husband's dismay. I grew up with a "real" tree. Somehow I survived. Although, at the time, I lived in New Jersey. My immune system was probably too busy dealing with the traceable amounts of lead in the water to be too worried about some pine needles. Then, in 2001, I moved to Oregon where I was solidly sick for seven months before a series of allergy tests proved that I'm allergic to...EVERYTHING! So in 2002, I bought a fake tree at Target for $50. And Oregon has no sales tax. So, on average, over the past 7, nearly 8 years, I've spent less than $10 a year on Christmas trees.
However, if you recall, I wrote that I'm working to reduce my use of plastic. I have no idea what my fake tree is made of, which leads me to believe it's plastic. And if you believe everything you read (my uncle insists that I read too much. His emphasis on both the "too" and the "much" strongly implied "to the point of insanity")...at any rate, if you believe everything you read, my plastic tree is doing a tremendous amount of off-gassing. Great. So while I'm not purchasing a formerly perfectly good living tree, I'm still creating a huge amount of environmental harm. On the Virginia scale (aahhh, we all love the Virginia scale), the fake tree has neither given me hives, caused an asthma attack, nor attracted every stray dog in a five mile radius. Thus, my conclusion that it is the better choice. For me.
Additionally, when you figure out that my tree only had to be made and shipped (probably from China) once, compared to what would become the annual shipping of a pine tree to San Diego, I'm possibly coming out ahead, environmentally speaking.
I will admit that it's entirely possible that someday, the accumulated exposure to my off-gassing plastic Christmas tree will give me cancer or Alzheimer's or something; it's, in my opinion, just as likely to have come from drinking all of that New Jersey water I was just talking about. So I'll take my chances, thank you.
A long time ago, I dated a very nice boy who didn't believe in what he called "organized religion." He was otherwise clean-cut, and with parents of very different faiths, this was probably as close to teenage rebellion as he came. He said when we grew up, we couldn't have a Christmas tree...because of what it represented. I argued that we could. I have no idea how a pine tree became associated with a Christian holiday, and if I really gave a hoot, I'm sure Mr. Google could tell me. But I don't care. Not because I'm lazy (I am anything BUT lazy) or indifferent, but because I like Christmas trees. I like the presents beneath them (I like giving gifts). I like the trains around them (although every year I have to call my dad to figure out how to get mine to work. Electrical engineer I am not). I like the goodwill-toward-men-be-nice-to-your-neighbor-drink-eggnog-with-the-family bits of Christmas, even if I'm not a particularly religious person.
So, back to the Free Christmas Tree mentioned in the title and beginning of this post. My mother-in-law came to visit over Thanksgiving. We had a fabulous time. Blah blah blah. She generously offered to get us a matching love seat to our sofa, as she knew we were having a party this coming weekend and she didn't think we had enough places for people to sit. Not ones to look a gift horse in the mouth, my husband and I took her up on it.
Thus ensued the trip to Ikea. I like Ikea. My husband does not particularly. He doesn't like large crowds in big stores and too many options. Needless to say, we try to arrange our lives so that I do the grocery shopping in general, and the Costco shopping in particular. Apparently I have the right blend of long attention span combined with a bit of ADD-type behavior (really, that's not an oxymoron...it's situation-dependent) and a fearlessness towards crowds (as I mentioned, I grew up in New Jersey. Hubby in Oregon and Colorado).
So the day we were in Ikea, they had this promotion where if you spent a certain amount of money (I think $250) you could come back on December 3 for a free tree. You took your receipt over to the promo table and the lady there stapled a green tag to your receipt and told you to bring the whole thing back on Thursday for your 5'-7' tree.
And herein lies the problem in Virginia-Land. Normally, this sounds like a job for my husband. He's taller and stronger than I am, and is better at driving his pick-up truck. However, he's also an Oregon Duck, and their Civil War football game is tomorrow night. Which means if he's going to leave the house, it had better be because it's on fire. Yes, of course, I can go get this tree. The problem I have is that it's month-end. And it's not going well (not monetarily, just functionally). So I'll be at work late tomorrow. And I have to get the tree by 8pm.
We are giving the tree to my sister, who's a grad student with a crazy schedule, and her roommate, who works from home the few days a month she's not traveling for her job. So we're working on a way to coordinate our schedules enough that my sister can come get the stupid receipt from me so that she and her roommate can go get the tree when the stars align tomorrow. I know this is saving them a boatload of cash, but for a freebie, this sure is becoming a lot of work!