Getting the Most for
By Gary Foreman firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Christmas Tree Dollar
"Hey Junior. Remember the year that we had a Christmas tree that was
so big it hardly fit into the living room?" John talked as he measured
the space in front of the living room window. This year the Smiths
would only buy a large enough tree to decorate their home. It wouldn't
be like the year where they 'trimmed' off a quarter of the tree they
"OK, I think I got what we need. Is Mom and your sister ready?" Soon
after John and Mary piled into the family minivan with the Smith
children in search of the perfect Christmas tree. There were a number
of lots in their area and knowing Dad, he would want to visit most at
Like a boy scout leader readying his troops, John announced the battle
plan. "I figure we need a tree that's about 7 feet high and about 3
feet in diameter. If we're going to use all those ornaments that
Grandma sent us we'll need to find a tree that's not too full."
"Dad, we should look at Frazier firs then. I read that their limbs are
strong so that they hold ornaments well." John was happily surprised
that his daughter was getting into the family tradition. "We'll see
sweetheart. Frazier's sure smell good and hold their needles, but
sometimes they're kinda expensive."
Mary joined the discussion. "Look gang, I've checked our finances and
we probably should try to stay on the less expensive side. I don't want
to be paying off our Christmas tree next April!"
"Then that means we should consider a pine tree. They're cheaper. Those
long needles look Christmas cool, too!" Junior was at that age where it
was important for the family to know that he had valid opinions.
They fanned out as they searched the first tree lot. John lifts a
couple of trees and drops them from a height of about six inches. "Just
seeing how many needles fall off. The more that fall the drier the tree
is." Mary, too, knows the tricks to finding a fresh tree. She bends
some needles to see if they break. A fresh needle from a fir or spruce
tree will break like a piece of celery. Only very dry pine needles will
break. Mary also grasps a branch and pulls toward her. She notices
whether the needles spring back to their original position.
After a few lots the Smiths select a tree. The lot attendant offers to
put a 'fresh cut' on the tree trunk. John turns him down. Junior asks
why. "I just want to do it right before we put the tree in the stand.
You do want to cut the trunk, but you need to get that cut into water
as soon as possible."
When they get home the Smiths are careful to store the tree in a cool
shaded area. John cuts the trunk on a diagonal and puts it in a bucket.
Occasionally one of the family will even 'mist' the tree to help keep
The big moment arrives. "Dad, why is the tree stand so big?" John
explains that a stand is like a glass of water for the tree. A minimum
of one gallon is needed to satisfy the thirst of an average home tree.
"Junior, you'll be responsible for making sure that the tree stand
never goes dry. That means checking it every day. If the stand's empty
the tree will put out pitch to cover the cut. Then even if more water
is added to the stand, the tree can't drink. The only way to solve it
is to put a new cut on the bottom of the tree. And with it all
decorated, I don't even want to think about that!"
The Smiths are careful that the tree is well supported and away from
heat sources. They always remember to turn off tree lights when no one
"Hey Hon, every year we wonder what we should add to the water in the
stand. Did you have time to try to find out what's best?" Mary listened
to John's question as she entered the room with a big bowl of popcorn.
"You know what's the best thing to add to the water? More water! I
found that a researcher at Washington State University found that plain
old tap water is the best thing to give your tree."
"I found some other interesting stuff, too. Did you know that in
ancient Egypt people would bring a green palm branch into their homes
during winter to symbolize life. They did that long before Christmas
was celebrated. In fact, there's no reference to a Christmas tree until
the 1500's. In Europe older women would cut down trees and sell them in
the city. Those were the first Christmas tree lots!"
Junior turned off the room lights. The Smiths gathered in the living
room and enjoyed the twinkle of the tree lights. Grandma's ornaments
brought back childhood memories for Mary. And in the background a song
could be heard, "It's the most wonderful time of the year..."
Gary is the editor of The Dollar Stretcher
( http://www.stretcher.com website.
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