The December before Pete and I got married, I picked up an $8 artificial tree at an odd little yard sale and set it up in Pete's apartment. It was probably less than two feet tall and severely overpriced at $8 second-hand. Yet, we used and loved that little tree every year from 2002 to 2010. Each December we would calculate and then giggle at how much money the tree had cost us on a per-year basis, which of course gradually tapered to less than $1 per year. (Ah, the things frugal nerds find amusing.)
For December 2011, I decided we should get a real tree. By this point we were solidly in the minimalist camp, and I was tired of awkwardly storing our tree wrapped up in a garbage bag under the stairs all year long. I decided I would much rather store a little Christmas tree stand - smaller and less awkward. Also, I think I just missed having a real tree (we always had them growing up), and I wanted the kids to enjoy the experience. So we picked out a tree at a local parking lot-lot. And, I have to say, I loved the real tree, especially the smell.
Before we moved to Luxembourg, we sold or otherwise ditched everything that wasn't imminently useful. The stand we had purchased from the tree lot out of convenience wasn't the greatest, and we didn't know what our tree situation would be in Luxembourg, so we gave it up. Around mid-November I started thinking about what we might do for a Christmas tree in Luxembourg this year. I had already seen a few questions/comments regarding where to acquire real trees on the American Women's Club of Luxembourg Facebook page. Most suggestions were places like Ikea, Cactus (hypermarket), and Hornbach (hardware store) - but all these options were far away and not really doable without a car. Artificial trees at Auchan (a hypermarket that's much easier by bus from our place than these other locations) were extremely expensive. Of course, at this point, I was wishing we still had our old $8 tree!
But, as usual, Amazon came to the rescue. I found a 5 ft tree on Amazon.de (Germany) for around 15 Euros. This seemed a quite sensible option for a frugal family with no car. One slight hitch remained: it was through a 3rd party seller and would only ship to Germany. This is a common issue and fairly easily dealt with; Pete simply asked a co-worker who commutes from Germany (again, common) if we could ship it to her place and she could bring it on the way to work. So, we were all set!
Meanwhile, a mom from school tipped me off that a little tree lot had just sprung up only a few blocks from our apartment on the other side of Merl Park! I went over, just to look - they were really expensive, but suddenly I wanted a real tree all over again! I called Pete to see what he thought--after all, we could probably re-sell or return the artificial one---but between having to hunt down a tree stand and feeling a bit wasteful, we decided to try for a real tree next year. I also spotted another tree lot in a parking lot near the city center - so clearly, there will be real trees within reach next year.
A couple weeks went by and I finally asked Pete if there was any news on our tree (not exactly sure why I didn't ask before then, maybe I hadn't wanted to seem too pushy or eager or make him pester his coworker). But upon hearing the question, Pete's eyes popped wide open! "Oh! I forgot to tell you! She was in a car accident!! She's okay, but she's in the hospital and we don't know when she'll be back at work!"
Okay, so then I just felt bad. I felt really bad for the woman. And I felt bad that we didn't know if/when we'd get our tree. And I felt the most bad for even feeling remotely bad about our stupid tree when a poor girl had been injured in a car accident.
Still, I resigned myself to patiently waiting for our tree. It sounded like Pete's co-worker would be back before Christmas at least. But a couple of days went by, and possibly because this is our first Christmas away from "home" and family, I started feeling like I needed a tree sooner rather than later. When I shared my predicament with a couple friends over a croissant in the city center, joking that I could take a tree on the bus, one of them remarked that she'd seen people do it. It was then I decided, I'm getting us a real tree! Today!
With an extra spring in my step, I walked from the city center over to the lot I'd spotted a few days before. These trees were quite a bit cheaper than the ones near our place (still not cheap), but they didn't sell stands. So I hopped on the bus to Auchan to pick up a stand and some tree lights (realizing for the first time that the lights in my Christmas storage box would not work with European voltage!). They only sold one kind of stand and the thing was 33 Euros! But it was clearly a quality German product, fancy, does all kinds of unnecessary things - but beggars can't be choosers, and I wasn't about to "shop around" for tree stands on the bus all day long. So I bought it and headed for the lot. The way I figured, this lot was a block or so from the bus stop for the bus that would put me about two blocks from my front door, and thus was actually a bit closer walking-wise than trying to drag a tree home from the lot at the park near our place, at which there was minimal tree selection anyway. So I picked out one of the smallest trees on the lot. Fortunately, the lots here neatly bag up the tree for you in a net. The gentleman assisting me asked if he could put it in my car for me. I told him I was taking the bus. He laughed.
So I poked a hole through the net, grabbed the trunk, and started walking. The thing was 5 feet tall and pretty heavy, so I stopped to put it down or switch hands every 30 steps or so. After several funny looks at the bus stop, my bus arrived. Mercifully, it was nearly empty.
The two blocks and change from the bus stop to my door were tough, but I got my arm workout in for the day at least.
|made it! (self-portrait in our building lobby)|