Every year Danusia and I start talking about when and where to get our Christmas tree. When we first moved in together in Williamsburg, there was no place to buy trees, and I found a place over a mile from our apartment on Meeker Avenue under the BQE where I got a nice tree for $50 and paid another $15 to have it delivered. I had the cash and didn’t feel like carrying it up four flights of stairs.
After that we found a florist on Broadway and Union that carried trees, walking distance and we both went over there with our little shopping cart and I bargained the guy down to $40 from $50 (for a 6-foot tree!) and we walked it home together in our shopping cart and carried it up the stairs. We did the same the following year.
Then they started selling trees right around the corner from us, a really short walk, we didn’t even take the shopping cart. $45 this time, but like I said, a shorter walk.
The following year Danusia called me and told me she’d seen our “Amish friend” selling trees on Graham Ave for $20 and I should go get one. I walked over there and sure enough; our Amish friend who comes every summer to the Greenmarket on Graham and Cook Streets was there, looking a little anxious and selling trees for $20. I bought one from him, he told me he wasn’t doing too good at it and I promised to send friends. We posted it on Facebook but when I saw him the next summer he told me it didn’t work out too well and he’d never do it again. Too bad, the price was right and I’d rather give my business to an honest Amish farmer than the big French-Canadian outfit that has an almost monopoly on the tree racket in New York.
The next year it was back to the Bodega on the corner and the $45 tree.
Last year I came home to find a tree already there, and Danusia told me proudly how she’d bought it for $30 on the corner of 3rd Street and Ave A and had lugged it home on the J train all by herself.
“Everybody on the train thanked me for making the train smell so nice!” How can you not love someone like that?
So this year Danusia said we should check out if that store was still selling the trees for $30. I didn’t relish carrying a tree from East 3rd Street all the way up to West 152nd Street.
“Why don’t we look to see if there’s anything closer, first?” She agreed and we looked around.
They sell trees just across the river at the Home Depot at the Bronx terminal market. They start at $60, and there’s always some guy with a van that will happily drive me home for another $20.
The closest place I could find was on Broadway and 138th street, and again the trees start at $60 for a “Charlie brown tree” as Danusia put it.
Tuesday I worked on East 4th Street, and Danusia asked if I could pick up a tree if they still had them on 3rd Street. After I got out of work at 4 I walked over and sure enough, there they were, Balsam Firs for $30, any size tree.
I didn’t relish carrying a tree on the subway so close to rush hour, so I took a picture instead and texted it to Danusia. When we spoke I promised to come back during the day the next day with the shopping cart, especially when she reminded me that she’d done it by herself last year.
I didn’t go Wednesday, making one last attempt to find a tree-selling place in our neighborhood. That’s when I saw the $60 trees on 138th Street.
Thursday I got up the courage to go get the tree, all the while thinking people were going to stare at me with a tree in a shopping cart on the subway. I guess I’m more self-conscious than Danusia, and this was probably the real issue.
I took the long ride down, stopping only to pick up a paper to read on the subway on the way back.
It was cold and windy Thursday, and after I got the tree and the guy loaded it into my little shopping cart I started the long trek to Hamilton Heights.
Getting it down the stairs at the second Avenue station wasn’t too bad, but I dreaded going up the stairs at 155th Street and worse, up 5 flights to our apartment.
Nobody paid any attention to me, the F train to West 4th was a little crowded, but I managed not to piss anyone off with my tree. At West 4th Street I took the escalator up to the A train platform and waited for a C train. I wasn’t taking two trains if I didn’t have to.
A group of women got on at 14th street and the eldest saw me and said, “Oh look! A Christmas tree!” Her friends all turned to stare, but only she smiled. At least I got one smile out of my trip.
At 155th Street a guy asked me if I wanted help and made the first 2 flights of my trip up a little easier. The rest was all me, including the hill up to Amsterdam fighting the wind all the way. The tree was a like a sail, pushing me back. Am I making this sound like an ordeal enough?
I finally got it up the stairs with much panting and grunting, and took it out of the shopping cart and onto the stand I got at the local 99-cent store for $11.
Last night Danusia decorated it and it looks beautiful. Merry Christmas, everybody.