Every year after Thanksgiving, sometimes as late as the first week in December, my wife and I go out to a local Christmas tree farm in search of the perfect tree, or I should say I accompany my wife in her search for that perfect tree. My wife, you see, has a picture in her mind, a kind of Platonic ideal of what a Christmas tree should be—indeed what a Christmas tree must be. It is a template against which any merely material manifestation must be matched.
First of all it must be a Frasier Fir, not a Douglas, not a Spruce, not a Scotch Pine, only a Frasier Fir. It must be at least seven feet tall, but not too close to eight. It must be slender, but it must have a little heft at the bottom, because we will be standing it in an old antique crock, and the heft at the bottom will keep it upright. It must not, on the other hand, have too much heft at the bottom. It must taper gradually, with no heavy spots or gaps in the branches.
This is the ideal we pursue each year. Some years we come close; some years we come very close. Some years we settle for something less than she'd like. But in no year does the reality ever completely match the idea of tree. This year was no exception. In fact this year we may have strayed further from the ideal of "Christmas tree" than ever before.
The tree farm is on Route 857 right outside of Fairchance, Pennsylvania on the road to Morgantown, West Virginia. They have trees of all species. They have some already cut down, or, if you prefer, you can trek out onto the farm and hunt between rows and rows of trees of all sizes and shapes, searching to your heart's content for the tree in your mind. When you find it, you tag it, go back to the combination barn/office, and someone will go out with you and cut it down. Lug it back to the barn, shake it, tie it in a tight roll, and lash it to (in our case) the roof of your Jeep. We, of course, always choose to search.