In Search of the Perfect Tree
This time of year always reminds me of the first Christmas I spent at the Cotton Mill Loft. I was living with my boyfriend Jeff and I mentioned that I'd love to be able to afford to buy a Christmas tree that would be tall enough to reach the ceiling. The ceilings at the loft were 20' tall. It was a dream, and one that I thought wouldn't happen. To Jeff, it was a quest. We headed towards Home Depot, in search of a 20' tree. They didn't have one. Normally I would've settled for a decent 6' tree if the price was right, but Jeff was determined. We then went to a Big John's lot and found a beautiful 20' tree, but it didn't have a price tag. When we asked, we found out that that tree would cost $1200, but that included delivery, set up and weekly waterings & mistings. Of course I was turned off, but Jeff (never one to want to appear anything less than wealthy) said that the tree looked rather skimpy and we were looking for one a little fuller. The salesman went back to the lot and searched for a more expensive, fuller tree as we ran back to the car and sped away towards the nearest Home Depot.
We went to every Home Depot in the city, literally. We couldn't find a tall enough tree at a price we could afford. At our 10th or 11th stop, I was begging Jeff to just let me buy a normal sized tree and then we could go home and decorate it. He wanted to make one more stop. By this time we were geting close to Gainesville, GA. At a Home Depot somewhere near Lake Lanier, we found the perfect tree. It was only 18' tall, but it was priced at $150. Sold (finally!). We strapped the humongeous tree to the top of his car and headed back towards Atlanta.
After about an hours drive home, we unloaded the tree and took it into the lobby of my building (with some help from willing neighbors). Then it dawned on us that this tree would never fit in the elevator and I lived on the third floor. No problem, we'll take the stairs. The tree was too tall to turn the corners and by the time we made it to my floor, the top section of the tree had broken off. By the time we reached my floor, we realized that a 16' tree would've been a perfect fit for the staircase. And that's what I had when I got the tree inside my apartment-- a 16' tree-- at least 2' of the tree was broken off and hung in the stairwell.
I put the tree in the stand and then raised it into position. The legs of the tree stand bent from all of the weight. I had to get lots of magazines to place underneath the stand's legs in an effort to balance it. It stayed in place and was the most beautiful, magnificent tree you could ever imagine-- until Christmas Eve, the night of my party. About 2 hours before the party, I was cleaning up and getting ready. I took a moment to sit on the couch and look at the tree. At that moment, I saw something strange. The tree was moving-- it was falling. I jumped up and caught it, just before it hit the ground. I stood there for about an hour, holding the tree up-- I couldn't let it fall, the ornaments would break. Jeff wasn't home and I had about 50 people scheduled to arrive soon. I finally let the tree fall, and cried as I heard my precious glass ornaments turn into shards. With sheer adrenaline, I hefted the tree back into place, tied a rope around it and nailed the rope to the wall. I cleaned up the broken glass and replaced the last of the ornaments on the tree just as the first guests arrived.
I won't give a lot of details on how I got the tree out of the apartment when Christmas was over, but I can tell you that it didn't go down the stairs or the elevator. Let's just say it involved a couple bottles of wine, a hand saw, a Mexican Fire Pot on the balcony, about a dozen firetrucks and an emergency evacuation of the entire complex.