There is a tree in my living room. Correction: there is a portion of a tree in my living room. We headed out this afternoon to a new tree farm. Correction: we headed out this afternoon to an old tree farm.

We’re fed up with paying $40 for a Christmas tree. Honestly, I think we were getting off cheap, but there is something so wrong about paying that amount of money just to fell a tree and bring it home for a slow dehydrating death in our front window. So, this year, we decided to check out the $10 trees south of town.

The sign says: CUT YOUR OWN TREE TO SIZE $10. Doesn’t ‘to size’ seem out of place there? Nope. The deal is: You plop $10 in the slot and head out to the back forty, armed with one of their shiny bow-saws (year #2 will find us wielding a chainsaw). You take down whichever of the thirty to forty foot trees that looks like it has the most promising upper quadrant, then you lop off the top and thread it into your vehicle, leaving the beheaded midsection to die in the woods with its fallen brothers.

There is no shaking machine to rid your booty of its loose needles, and certainly no modified PTO bailer waiting to wrap your bushy behemoth into a toothpick for smooth transport. You don’t get your pick of five needle types or any hybrid GMO sapless varieties, no one offers you hot cider or a convenient tree clean-up bag, and you can’t buy a wreath, overpriced or otherwise. But – and this is huge – you only pay $10.

So, the upper echelons of our chosen frasier (canaan? balsam? douglas? I have no idea), as one might expect, looked slightly different once landed at eye level, but we did a pretty good job. I was afraid that once we brought it down it would be a lot larger than we thought, but the opposite appears to be the case. This is one skinny tree.

We were excited to see all the cones adorning the branches up there, but it turns out that what we have here is a tree that once harbored a plethora of cones. A tree that now harbors millions of tiny cone skeletons, bereft of anything more than one or two scales. The squirrels ate well.

And while the cutting process was relatively sap-free, we learned a little known pine (fir) tree fact. Forty foot trees, for reasons unbeknownst to me, store all their excess sap in the top six feet. Crazy, eh? He’s oozing out of every branch tip and cone tip. Yes, the dead cones, oozing sap out of the ends of their little brown cores. Cool.

This was Hagrid, of 2014 fame. Sheldon is… smaller.

So we brought the top 10 feet home to trim up and cram into the tree stand that has never housed anything less than a monster. We name our trees and they often earn moniker like Hagrid for their immensity. Sheldon, as I am sure this gem will come to be known, sits meekly in his stand, wearing it like a toddler wearing dad’s hunting boots. The wind that I kick up walking by jostles Shel around like a derecho. (See When Harry Met Sally for full explanation of name choice.)

Poor Sheldon is getting a bad rap around here, but I’ll take the blame for most of that. As my husband and I parted ways at the van, he to measure and cut Sheldon to a stature that wouldn’t bend at the ceiling, I to clear the patch of real estate that he would soon occupy, I was the one that sentenced Shel to further humiliation when I said “Just cut him to seven feet. The ceiling is a little more than that, but the stand will raise him up a little too. Seven should be perfect.”

Our ceiling is not seven feet tall. Is yours? I doubt it, unless you’re a hobbit. I don’t know what I was thinking. Between my verbal misstep and my husband’s auto-correct feature compensating for my general optimism, Sheldon is not only gangly, he is vertically challenged. His angel is staring at the ceiling wondering why it is so far away.

The good news: Easy watering and present placement, as there is little to get in the way.

A joyful Nativity season to you all,

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