How to Buy a Christmas Tree

Since some of you appreciated my instructions over the summer on how to pick berries with a 3-year-old, I decided to share my most recent experience in the name of Educational Information.


How To Buy A Christmas Tree With A Preschooler & A Kindergartener

1. On the 1st below-30-degree day of the season after 2 weeks of holiday travel and a husband M.I.A. due to the busiest work period of the year, select today as the day to surprise your kids with Christmas tree shopping when you pick the 3.5yo girl and 5.5yo boy up from school.

2. Tell them you have a BIG SURPRISE for them.

3. Bring them home, get them both to pee without totally removing all their clothes*, re-bundle them up, grab snacks & water, all while batting away screeches of delight and nagging inquiries as to what this surprise could possibly be (“is Santa here? are we getting a cookie? are we going to the airport? is Max & Ruby on? are we going to the Lego store?”).

* Why must kids get naked to urinate? Why??

4. Get them back in the truck, buckled in.

5. Try not to go deaf during the drive to charity Christmas Tree sale.

6. Park.

7. Pull out camera, gloves, measuring tape.

8. Hop out of the truck, swinging open the back door with a made-up-on-the-spot-song about how HUGE a tree you’re gonna get this year.

9. Look over your shoulder.

10. Realize it doesn’t open for another 3 hours.

11. Get back in the truck.

12. Drive weeping children back home.

13. Unbundle them, placate them with another annoying episode of Max & Ruby in the family room for her, G-Force (for the 600th time) in the basement for him.

14. Console.

15. Hug.

16. Wipe tears.

17. Bribe.

18. Beg for mercy and swear on your life they can buy the biggest damn tree in the place if they Just. Stop. Whining.

19. Wait 3 hours.

20. Make them pee (again).

21. Bundle them up (again).

22. Put them in the car with snacks & waters (again).

23. Call friend to meet you there.

24. Drive to charity Christmas Tree sale (again).

25. Confirm they are open, finally cheering the kids back up.

26. Tell them you need Two Special Helpers to pick the Christmas tree out.

27. Explain to 3.5yo that you can’t buy the wooden sign in the shape of a tree or the tree painted on the side of the trailer.

28. Watch 3.5yo stomp her foot and pretend to cry over inability to buy trees that aren’t actually tress until Old Dude who works there and has experience with ornery grandchildren distracts her.

29. Lose the 5.5yo amidst the trees.

30. Find the 5.5yo.

31. Ask for the tall trees.

32. Lose the 3.5yo while walking towards the tall trees.

33. Find the 3.5yo.

34. Quietly threaten both children that if they run off again they will not get a Christmas tree.

35. Silently pray you don’t have to actually follow through on this threat.

36. Feel a twinge of guilt asking 2 Old Dudes volunteering there to heave a couple 9+ foot-tall trees up so you can fully inspect the suckers** before choosing one.

** The trees, not the Old Dudes.

37. Hear the sobs of your 5.5yo who is insisting he “HATE that tree” and wants one of the stacked and bound trees not on display.

38. Watch 3.5yo try to spear herself with a wrought iron tree stand.

39. Act all excited about the tree you have chosen in an attempt to round-up unruly kids, asking Old Guys to hold it up to take a photo of the kids in front of it.

40. Watch the kids both start crying and yelling that they want different trees while running in opposite directions.

41. Tell the frightened Old Dudes “we’ll take it” with a forced smile on your lips.

42. Watch 5.5yo stop crying quickly enough to maneuver himself behind the high school volunteers who are now trying to chainsaw the tree trunk and almost get himself hacked to bits.

43. Grab 5.5yo.

44. Lose sight of 3.5yo (again).

45. See friends coming.

46. Find 3.5yo when she dashes from behind a display of Douglas Firs to join their friends.

47. Finally see the kids cheer up when all 4 of them start making fun of you in unison.

48. Walk away from annoying kids to pay for tree.

49. Try not to pass out at the price of a 10′ Christmas tree.

50. Distract kids with piles of leaves while high schoolers take foooooreeeeeveeer to tie the tree to the roof of the truck.

Oooh a fence! And dried-up leaves!! FUN!!!

51. Tell the kids “its time to get in the truck!” and watch 3.5yo refuse to go home with you.

52. Have no problem allowing friend to drive 3.5yo in her car back to your house because she’s a pain in the ass, anyway.

52. Get 5.5yo in truck.

54. Watch high schoolers climbing all over car, seeming unsure of what they are doing.

55. Offer to help.

56. Be told “I totally know what I’m doin’, man”.

57. Contemplate the meaning of being called a man, yet again.  Make New Year’s Resolution to not get mistaken for A Man in 2011.

58. Accidentally give the high schoolers the $20 bill instead of the $10 bill when tipping.

59. Curse under your breath in the car about the over-tip.

60. Have 5.5yo with apparent Super Sonic Hearing ask what that word meant.

61. Tell him it was an accident, “we don’t say that word”.

62. Have him tell you “but you just did”.

63. Change the topic.

64. Drive home, down to one kid.

65. Open garage door remotely, almost pulling in with a tree on your roof.

66. Slam on breaks so as to not crush newly-purchased tree or garage door trim.

67. Park car in driveway, wait for friend to meet you there.

68. Go directly into the house for wine with your friend, I mean to let the kids play.

69. Eat, drink, play, drink, eat more, chat, let the kids play more, ooops did we almost finish that whole bottle of red wine?

70. Break out some serious gingerbread man decorating skillz.

Eat me.

71. See that it’s time for your friend to go home, down the block.

72. Ask her to watch kids for a minute.

73. Walk out to the driveway with shears in hand.

74. Cut off the ties on the tree, climb up on rear bumper and yank with all your might and 160lbs of Pure Aggravation to get tree off truck’s roof.

75. Wonder whether the tree actually weighs more than you.

76. Be glad the driveway light isn’t working so none of your neighbors can see you making an ass out of yourself in public (again).

77. Drag tree into the garage.

78. Send off your friend.

79. Bathe kids, dress kids, read to kids, kiss kids, tuck kids in.

80. Soak up the silence of the house for exactly 30 seconds before getting back to business.

81. Get tree stand and floor mat from the massive piles of holiday decor loaded in guest bedroom.

82. Set up tree stand and floor mat in family room.

83. Go back to garage.

84. Drag 10′ tree by yourself through the garage, up the steps, down the hall, through the kitchen, down the step, to the end of the family room.

85. Take a deeeeep breathe and heave the tree upright into the strand all on your own.

86. Do all sorts of funky yoga-esque poses while turning the mile-long tree stand screws into the tree so it doesn’t fall through the bay window/into the fireplace/onto your frail and exhausted body.

87. Shove the tree into the center of the room, cutting off all the netting.

88. Tentatively poke at tree a couple times to ensure it is stable.

89. Water tree.

90. Sweep.

91. Sweep more.

92. Remember how much you hate pine needles.

93. Sweep again.

94. Take a shower, scraping off the sap on your hands and pine needles in your hair.

95. Pull out all the tree lights then decide Screw This, it can wait til the morning.

96. Watch tv.

97. Go to bed.

98. Wake up pretty darn sore.

99. Shower, prep breakfast, get the kid’s school backpacks ready, lay out their clothes, write down your To Do list.

100. Get the kids out of bed.

101. Crankily rub aching lower back while following the kids downstairs to the kitchen.

102. Be stopped in your grumbly tracks by their silent awe*** as they first see the Christmas tree all set up.

***Since the kids are rarely silent, this lack of noise momentarily confuses you.

103. Almost get knocked over when hit with two running hugs from two totally delighted kids.

104. Grin genuinely ear to ear thinking about how much fun this is.

105. Wrap half a dozen strings of lights around tree without falling off ladder, through bay window, into yard.

106. Let the kids hang a big box full of ornaments you love dearly and have had for years, barely cringing whenever (yet another) one crashes to the hardwood floor.

Kids can play with fragile pointy things, right?

107. Crank up the Apple tv iTunes Holiday song mix you created and dance while your little elves put their finishing touches on the most beautiful tree you’ve ever seen.

108. Even if all the ornaments only go about 1/4 of the way up.

No one looks up there, anyway. Right?

109. Forget about the sore back, the sappy hands, the mild hangover, the pine needles, the lights that need to be hung outside, the shopping list, the enormous Christmas To Do List hovering over your head, and the general state of disarray of the house around you and only see a the sweet rosy flush of excitement on the two most important people in the world as they bask in a simple joy of the holiday season.

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  1. bridget says

    LL was reading this over my shoulder and about halfway down he said “She’s not going to try and put up a ten foot tree by herself is she??” [pause as he reads a few more bullets] “Holy S@#$*t!!” He was duly impressed with your skills. And I’ll be really upset if you have raised the bar such that he expects me to do that next year. :)

    • says

      I trimmed the list down as efficiently as possible with 2 kids. I’m impressed you made it through all 109 steps. Many thanks for the commitment.

      And yes, this is the kind of thing my Amazonian-ness and stubborness allow me to make happen when I can’t find my husband to help me out.

  2. says

    Funny! Of course then there is my, much simpler, approach: 1) order tree online and have it sent to your husband’s office so you don’t have to wait at home for it. 2) unwrap.

  3. says

    I wish it weren’t illegal to tie the kids together when out on errands. Mine always run in opposite directions at the same time. At least, I think it’s illegal. I should look into that some more…
    Glad you got the tree home and up and still have everyone accounted for. Not an easy feat! Kudos!

    • says

      With all that binding and plastic netting within arm’s reach, don’t think I didn’t contemplate this within 30 seconds of arriving at the tree sale.

      Someone should totally make one of the dog strollers people push around but for kids. With bars and a lock so they can’t get out. They’ll still be getting fresh air and all that, plus you’d have a handly spot to put your shopping on rather than touch those germy shopping carts. Win-win for all.

  4. says

    Oh, this post made me giggle. We had our own tough time getting a tree this year. My older daughter went insane. Yay!

    Happy Christmas memories I will treasure for a lifetime.


    You know what my favorite line in this post is? Nothing to do with Christmas trees.

    This . . .

    “Contemplate the meaning of being called a man, yet again. Make New Year’s Resolution to not get mistaken for A Man in 2011.”

    Oh, that made me laugh so hard!

    Love that.

  5. says

    Jebus, what was in that wine? Miracle Muscle? Like how did you drag that bad boy into your house?
    This made me laugh. The things we do to put a smile on our kids faces.

    • says

      I have very few skills outside of being able to carry very heavy things. Unfortunately this is not a very marketable skill (unless I was to enter the Stongest Man Competition, but I think you need frank & beans to qualify, so even then I’m outta luck) so my kids are the only ones who benefit from it!
      Thanks for coming by. If you ever need furniture moved…..

  6. Emma Morgan says

    yeah, and if you enter the Strongest Man competition, you totally blow your resolution before 2012 even gets here, this post is great, seems like all the fun you have in your head is gone the second you start herding those psychotic cats(my kids) around in public :)

  7. says

    I’m speechless. Almost.

    You are one kickass amazing woman but….Rainyday may be my new hero with that comment about tying children together while out shopping. I may have to invent something that would meet with the approval of child welfare agencies nationwide.

    Like…a Super-Stick Velcro kid’s clothing line. Just would have to teach them to walk normally all stuck together.

    I’ll work on it…..

  8. says

    OMG!!!! Hilarity!!!! Could not stop laughing. (with you, not at you. seriously) All of the struggle and pain-in-the-@$$ factors are worth it when you get those tackle hugs. Then suddenly all is right with the world. :o)

  9. says

    Been there, done that, love this!! We were blessed with one of those rare, ‘everybody’s happy’ tree shopping trips this year. Our secret? We went to a charity tree stand in the pouring rain at night. Kids had so much fun jumping in puddles and laughing at their sopping wet siblings, they forgot to fight about the tree or run off. They helped me pick out the fattest tree I could find (that also happened to be a foot taller than our ceiling). All were very impressed with my Griswold-like selection; lucky for me my neighbor has a chainsaw and a good sense of humor. Don’t feel too guilty about asking the 2 Old Dudes to help with the tree exam, at least it wasn’t raining :)

  10. Jessica says

    You know what the best part is about your posts that talk about your kids’ antics? It makes me realize that MY kids aren’t the only ones that do this crazy shit! Every year my son complains that he doesn’t like the tree we’ve picked. This year it was because it was “small and dirty.” I then told him, “So are you.”

  11. says

    Wow — scary… I also have a 3.5 and 5.5 year old, and while we haven’t ventured bravely out to get a tree yet, I’m fairly certain you described my experience exactly as it would play out. Except for the red wine. I prefer white. Merry Christmas!

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