Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

NOTE:  I wrote this in December before I went home for Christmas.  But, I forgot to post it.  Better late than never, right?

The Christmas market in front of St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest. (Click image to see larger)I’ve figured out how to get a giant, beautiful Christmas tree for free, and you don’t have to do anything.  Does that sound too good to be true?  It’s not.  I’ll tell you how, but first, let me explain my traditional method of getting a tree.

Growing up in Colorado, there wasn’t a lack of nature.  If we were bored in the afternoon, we could, at a moment’s notice, head off for a hike in some of the most beautiful mountains on the planet.  Therefore, it’s not surprising that we went to these same mountains for a Christmas tree.

One of the first weekends of December, we would throw a saw, some ropes, blankets, shovels, sleds, and other masculine items in the car, and take off for the forest.  We weren’t the only people with this idea, so it would be rather crowded.  Plus, the Forest Service would sell permits and regulate where you could cut trees, so really we were helping the natural environment (I guess I should add environmentalist to my resume).

The downside is that mountains are at a high elevation and difficult to get around in.  The “perfect” tree was never on the side of the road.  Instead, it was at the bottom of a valley or the top of a cliff.  Cutting it down was the easy part; getting it to the car was the hard part.  Sometimes we would get it part way and realize we weren’t so attached to the bottom few feet (and shortly after, the tree was no longer attached to that part either).

When real trees aren't good enough, get something artsy like this. (Click image to see larger)We would tie the tree to the roof, and start the drive home.  The narrow, winding mountain passes would require us to stop and readjust the tree before we got home (they never look as good after tumbling off the roof onto a highway – and the damage tends to be more severe than “just put that part in the corner”).

Then, we would get home and realize that although the living room ceiling spans two floors of the house, it’s still slightly smaller than the sky in the great outdoors.  Off goes another few feet.  Thousands of pine needles fall on the floor, the dogs eagerly inspect the tree (the boys plot how to mark their territory without getting yelled at), and we bandage our cuts and drink something warm to help heat return to our bodies.

That was what a Christmas tree meant.

After I moved away from home, I noticed my parents weren’t so attached to this tradition.  They put a little less effort into the process, and they bought one at a Christmas tree lot down the street.  The price was much more, but the difficulty was much less.

Last night, I was talking to them on Skype, and they pointed the computer at the tree so I could watch them decorate it.  That was convenient because I didn’t have to make excuses of why I don’t actually like hanging ornaments (it hurts, those needles are sharp).

The Opera Christmas Tree (in other words, my own personal tree that other people keep looking at). (Click image to see larger.)But, I have learned a valuable lesson about life.  I’ve figured out a way to get a giant, beautiful Christmas tree that you can view from your warm home.  You even get to sip your warm beverage while someone else sets it up for you.  You don’t have to water it, or clean up needles.


Move across the street from a famous landmark.  The Opera House in Budapest gets a tree all to itself.  It’s tall, beautiful, and decorated.  All I have to do is glance out my window, and there it sits.  No assembly required.

There are only two negative aspects to this strategy:

  1.  Other people constantly take pictures of MY Christmas tree.  Oh well, I suppose I can share.
  2. They set it up in the middle of the night, and they make an incredible amount of noise doing it.  But, that’s still less exhausting than having to carry it down a mountain.

In other words, Merry Christmas.  I know it’s a little late, but give me a break, I had exams and trans-Atlantic travel to deal with.

 A Budapest ornament on my Christmas tree at home. My influence is spreading. (Click image to see larger)

Hungarian word of the day:


This is pronounced „Kaw-rach-oh-nyu-faw,” and it means Christmas Tree (probably).