But not this year. I sat at my desk, hearing "Christmas with Martha Stewart Living" crooning insistently from my bookshelf, and decided things were going to change. I came up with a brilliant idea. I'd swallow my pride and buy an artificial Christmas tree.
Before you swoon with horror, believe me, I'm as much a tree snob as anyone. I've dragged my husband through lots scattered across the entire county before I found the perfect tree (which was usually a bit on the misshapen side, because I watched Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown at an entirely too impressionable age and became deeply convinced that I should always buy the tree nobody in their right mind would want.) There is simply no substitute for the fresh smell of a new pine, the sharp-edged springiness of the needles, the hours-long struggle to trim the trunk while the tree shrivels audibly in your hands, the gentle give-and-take of two people way after their bedtimes trying to get the tree straight in an ancient stand that's got two of its four screws welded stuck with rust. But I knew that the real thing wouldn't work this year, not with our travel schedule. So an artificial tree it was.
I wanted to surprise my husband and preschooler son, so I waited until they were out of the house before driving down to the local hardware store. After much study I chose the tree that had the weirdest color and shape (a Montana Blue Pine, it alleged.) After spending a small fortune I hauled back what appeared to be a missile-sized box of depleted uranium and wrestled it into the house. Several hours later, after crushing one finger flat in the "easy open" foldable metal stand, "fanning" every single needle on the branches, and scraping every square inch of skin off my forearms trying to get rid of the gaping holes that perfectly revealed the plastic stick in the middle, I was done.
Well, look at that. You know, this doesn't look bad at all. In fact, it looks pretty darn good! And all it needed was that little final touch, that last perfect Martha Stewart detail, and I could smell the chestnuts roasting.
So I fished out an innocuous little spray can -- an impulse purchase while I was heady with the triumph of acquiring my very own everlasting Montana Blue Pine -- that claimed it would supply that piney-fresh mountain evergreen scent to complete my flawless replica.