“That one,” he said pointing confidently at the miniature Christmas tree tucked behind more colorful shrubbery. Shopping for the perfect tree should have taken much longer, but our perfect match positioned itself right up front at Harmony nursery. We had barely begun to walk along the curved path, toward the maze of blooms and red, gold and caramel leaves adorning the bushes and trees, when we found him. Earlier in the morning, we jumped in the truck and headed out from Oakland for a drive through Sonoma county. Though December was still in its infancy, this part of the world was just experiencing the explosion of bright earth reds, yellows, greens, and golden browns that blanket the North East coasts during the fall. Being born and raised on the East Coast, I’m used to Christmas lights livening up the newly de-leafed trees around the neighborhood. Now, spending my first Christmas on the West Coast, I’m amused to see nature lighting up the atmosphere along side the trappings of the local Sonoma residents. Teenage redwoods sporting the twisted Christmas lights, as if claiming their spot in nature’s living room. Displays of Santa and his four-legged companions, wreaths with bells and red bows, and the smell of cinnamon, pine and nutmeg wafting through the air.
Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery found us as we weaved through the small Sonoma County towns, each displaying the personalities of these communities on the lawns, doorways, and main street holiday displays. As we drove past the nursery, it dawned on me, “we should get our tree there”. We knew we wanted to get a living tree, and what better place than the part of the world known for birthing the farm-to-table, organic-is-better movements. A point illustrated more clearly through the fact that we spotted our Christmas companion right away. There is something about pairing yourself with the perfect tree that commits you to the holiday season. Our tree was a Turkish fur shorty, and the needles were abundant with rich green. When you know, you know.
With pride, we loaded our lil’ tree into the back of our truck. Christmas wasn’t official until we had this little guy in our possession. Like proud parents, we paraded our lil’ guy around town, showing him off before he even had the chance to shine in his full holiday glory. Making the tree ours immediately became our full time focus. In all of our adult lives, neither of us had ever had a Christmas tree to make our own. I can’t quite pinpoint when Christmas went from being a warm and happy event to a stressful let-down, but if I had to venture a guess, I would say it corresponds with the hormonal explosion of teenagehood. For the first time in my adult life, I felt ownership over this Christmas. Having chosen this little guy, I could make him whatever I wanted. Christmas trees set a household vibe and I was finally able to surround myself with the kind of Christmas I had been missing.
We went out and bought our first ornaments. The first two were so obvious: a brussels sprout for him, my NorCal companion, and a glittering ice cream sandwich for me, a Southerner with an aching sweet tooth. We found a California grizzy bear clutching on to the state of California as if it were it’s blanky. A quirky, glass-blown octopus with just the right amount of weird. A delicate (I’d like to think dinosaur) egg. And a beautiful painted clay Christmas tree. We found some delicate white lights to wrap around the tree and with the flick of a switch, Christmas was on. Our season has started, and our tree is our reminder that Christmas is what you make it.