Amazingly, I am not talking about Black Friday, Gray Thursday, Cyber Monday, or any other made up day.
No. I meant what we saw on Saturday, coming towards us as we drove to Holland. And then another. Evergreens, ripped from the Earth and tied to the roofs of minivans like the deer slain in the previous fortnight in Michigan. Makes total sense -- we are surrounded by Christmas tree and shrubbery farms around here. Indeed, our very own property was hacked out of a bad Christmas tree farm of Jack pines. There are still maybe 80-100 of them left, despite those cut or lost in the roughly twenty years we've been here.
And... It's after Thanksgiving, so putting up a sacrificial tree, decorating it, before consigning the carcasses to the wood chippers, is a vicious tradition.
Seriously, though, there is something wondrous in having a freshly cut pine in the house this time of year. We had real trees in Medina. But in White Plains NY, near New York City, the prices were outrageous. So we got a decent artificial tree, from Macy's I think, back when Macy's was a real store. Before it was bought up and became a shell of its former self -- and all the other great stores they've vacuumed up and ruined. That was in 1968. Up until a couple of years ago, that same artificial tree served my parents every Christmas, though my dad did shorten it by one row of branches as they got older. Well made, for an artificial tree.
When we moved to the U.P. in 1984, it was easy to get real pines. Our first tree together was put up after Thanksgiving, then put outside just before Christmas, as we were off to a week in Chicago. Never made it as the Suburban was wrecked 5.7 miles down the road. Once we got back home, we hauled the tree out of the snow bank and put it back up.
We got some very nice trees down here in West Michigan Christmas tree territory. Eventually we got trees we could cut even shorter. That way the tree could be put up in the corner, under the highest point of the ceiling, but on top of one of Pine Factory cubes, to discourage the cats.
More recently, we've done a lot of traveling at/before/after Christmas to North Carolina, and haven't put a tree. But when we did, The Plan was to put it up on Thanksgiving weekend and take it down New Year's Day. My family always put up little bags of gold coins as ornaments -- the rule was you got the coins for helping take the tree down. Fond memories of munching on chocolate coins during the Rose Bowl. Back when New Year's Day bowl games meant something.
Anyway, there are families in West Michigan bagging Christmas trees and taking them home to briefly make them part of the household. Good smells. Pretty lights. Memories for the kids.
The December Begins
After our brief encounter with the snows of Thanksgiving, most of that is gone. Between some snow and an afternoon of 36°F... and steady rains. Still raining.
Of course it's too early to tell what kind of winter we'll have. I like snow. And cold. Especially bitter cold that keeps the ice down from rains and melting. But it's going to be challenging enough to get in and out of the Blazer and to/from the office, so a dry winter wouldn't be too bad for me. Bad for farmers, but every possibility has winners and losers, so we'll take what we get.