How to Choose a Christmas Tree

This has been a long week for me, mostly because I've had to wait to put up Christmas decorations. It's been, like... torturous.

Usually the day after Thanksgiving, I am in my slippers and surrounded by boxes from the storage unit, the Christmas music blaring. The house gets decked in lights and ornaments and a little nativity scene.

But this time I held off because Tanner said we're going to get a real Christmas tree this year. Usually this is a treat reserved for being at home with my family (Christmas tree farm with a cup of cocoa and peppermint in hand, wearing stocking caps and red noses) and my apartment gets the second-hand fake tree with the crooked top.

This time, though, we had an adventure planned. So here is the 4th day of Christmas step-by-step tutorial of how to choose your own Christmas tree in Oregon.

{how to choose a christmas tree}

Step one: Start out with a great idea. For example: you're going to drive your Jeep into the snowy foothills of the majestic Mount Hood with some friends, pick up a permit from the ranger's station and strap on snowshoes to hike through snowy hills to find the perfect tree. There will be some sort of golden light shining down when you find it, much like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Proceed to get really excited.

Step two: Plan to be on the road by 10 am, tops.

Step three: Leave at noon. Well, let's call it noon-thirty. Because you totally forgot about that crockpot dinner you were supposed to start an hour ago.

Step four: Get halfway to the mountain before you realize, shit. We live in Oregon. It's not 30 degrees and snowing... it's 50 degrees and pouring.

Step five: Pull up to the ranger station, pay $5 for a tree-cutting permit and ask where the best place to snowshoe for a Christmas tree would be. Try not to look annoyed when the ranger laughs and says, "snowshoe?"

Step six: Find some snowshoe trails further up the mountain. Park the jeep and trade all your heavy winter clothes for your raincoat and umbrella. Leave the snowshoes in the car. Bring the saw. Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

Step seven: Discover that snowshoeing trails are not so pretty when they don't require snowshoes. Ponder between your choices: do you take the "snowbunny" trail, or the "white-way" trail?

Step eight: Trek through the rain and wander further into the woods, filling your senses with the smell of fir trees.

Step nine: Pick out the perfect tree. This may take some time, as finding the perfect tree is not something to be taken lightly. It should be a fir tree, preferably. You must be sure to examine it from every angle, measure the height carefully, test the branches for their "ornament-holding" abilities, and decide whether the curve in the trunk is adorable or distracting. Once you find a tree that matches these qualities, cut it down close to the base and name it "Douglas."

Step ten: Realize you're pretty far into the woods and have forgotten a sled to cart your tree back to your car. Give your party members a quick lesson on the proper techniques to move a heavy object: the fireman's carry, the drag-and-pull, the make-shift sled, the backpack carry, the one-person lift, the two-person lift, or the ever-popular cheerleader pyramid. Don't forget to lift with the knees.

Step eleven: Make it back to your car without getting lost. Congratulations! Now you have to find a way to get multiple trees strapped to the top of your Jeep and get home before the sun sets at the ripe ol' hour of 2 pm. You have twenty minutes. Ready.... go.

Step twelve: Oh, and I forgot to mention that Northern firs are super prickly. You may not have noticed (because you were wearing gloves before) but all of a sudden, trying to move your Christmas tree is like wrestling with a cactus. Joke that "you may be soaking wet and your hands are bleeding, but you're soooo happy!" Sing a Christmas carol. "O Christmas Tree" might be appropriate at this point in time, but I won't tell if you change the lyrics to something involving rum.

Step thirteen: Safely make it home from the mountain without your trees going through the back of someone's windshield. Bring your tree into the house (don't forget to wear your gloves!) and spend thirty minutes tediously twisting the giant bolts of your tree stand into the trunk so that it stands up straight. Step back and admire your new decor, and get some bandaids for your hands.

Step fourteen: Realize that despite the deviation from your original plan, it was a pretty awesome day. Especially that part with the cheerleader pyramid.