Oh Christmas tree…

It seemed like this was the weekend to either go through with it or forget it for this year… buying a Christmas tree. We’d seen them for sale at the marche de noel in Grenoble, so we knew live trees are available. All we had to do was find them.

No problem. I’d spied some at my favorite garden/decorating store.

We headed out after breakfast to get our tree. Ok, so heading out after breakfast for us means heading out at 11:45am. At least it was better than yesterday, we were in the car headed off the mountain before noon. As we made the descent I said “uh, I hope this place doesn’t close at noon for lunch.” I still cannot get used to the fact that stores here close for two hours at lunchtime. I understand the small stores that do it. But not the big stores. Not three weeks before Christmas! We got to the store at 12:10. Twenty minutes to tree shop before lunch.

We knew we didn’t want a big tree. No way to get it home. We wandered around, chased Kaitlyn, and settled in on one group we liked. Now, if you had told me at 11:45 this morning that I was going to buy a flocked Christmas tree, I’d have laughed at you. But there I was, at 12:20, picking out a flocked tree. Hey, they’re nice. Much nicer than flocked trees I’ve seen in the US. Mind you, we still had our limits. Definitely, no red or purple flocked trees were coming home with us… no matter what Kaitlyn said she liked.

As the clock ticked toward closing, one of the employees in the tree area came over to help us. I’m sure she instantly was sorry. I waved my arm around babbling “I want… one of these.” But I said it half in French and half in English. Then I showed her how the one we liked didn’t have a price tag. I’ve done that too many times at Carrefour to make that mistake again if I can help it because if you go to the cash register with an item without a price marked on it, heaven help you. The cashier will want to talk, ask you questions. Then she’ll roll her eyes when you don’t understand and she’ll pick up the phone and call her Aunt Betty to tell her about the stupid American in her line yet again, oh and can Betty please find out how much the little kid’s doctor kit costs? The tree lady found another one she deemed similar enough to use for a price quote. Trente cinq euros. Ok. I’ll take it. She put it in a big plastic bag and told me the store was closing. That confused me. I mean, I knew the store closed at 12:30. Was she telling me the store had already closed and I’d have to actually come back for my tree? We finally figured out, no, she just wanted me to go directly to the cashier, do not pass go, do not collect more items in my cart.

In the parking lot, there were rows of shoppers all trying to stuff trees into the backs of tiny European cars. Ours fit with half the backseat folded down. Kaitlyn got in and looked at her back seat companion and said “cool.”

The tree isn’t really much taller than Kaitlyn is. We’ve never had a tree that small. But figuring out where to put it was easy, since even I could pick it up and move it around. And you don’t put it in water. The bottom is stuck into a tree stump. If your tree is crooked, well you bought it that way with no chance of correcting it with a clever swivel of the stand. As we were moving it, we noticed a small tag on the top. Bill read it and we translated it to say: do not put lights on the Christmas tree you just bought and hauled home. In a country that doesn’t seem to put much of a priority on safety (no handrails on stairs, no smoke detectors, no gfci outlets) it seemed that if they bothered to put a warning on the tree the danger level must have been exceedingly high. So we were going to heed it. Bill said the led lights they sell here would be ok, they don’t heat up. And, hey, we noticed Carrefour was open for Christmas shoppers today.

Bill made the trip to Carrefour; I stayed home with a napping Kaitlyn. He went to not one but two Carrefours. Neither had any of the lights left. So we got fresh milk but no lights.

Kaitlyn helped us decorate the tiny tree and she had no problem reaching all the way to the top. Most of our ornaments are so heavy the branches they hang from sag. I never realized how many of those Hallmark ornaments that you plug into the light strand we have until today. They stayed in the box. When I opened the box of Mom’s ornaments , I couldn’t bring myself to put most of them out. It was still way too hard. Two years ago today I was on a plane to California to have my life altered in an irreversible way I never wanted it to be and I don’t need to have reminders dangling from my tree. Not yet. I’m not ready.

Bill got out his Christmas train and it now circles the little white tree. Often with Belle or Barbie along for the ride.

It’s kinda a sad tree. Small. No lights. It is so unlike any other tree Bill and I have had that it hardly seems like it should be ours… or like Christmas. Like everything else right now, it’s new and strange and we’ve tried to make it seem right by putting our things on it but it still just isn’t. Then again, sometimes I think that Christmas will never seem right to me again.

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