I’m generally late putting up a Christmas tree. We use the real trees, and I’m always afraid that if I put it up too soon, it’ll dry out — especially since it’s usually January 2nd week before I take it down again.
This year’s no exception. Everywhere I go, windows are full of brilliant trees. The city’s live tree in Golden Gate Park is already lit. We got round to tree shopping only last night.
I always buy my tree at the same place: Emerald Forest, at Sloat and 19th. Clancy’s at 7th and Warren is closer, and I’m sure they’re pretty good. But where I go is Emerald Forest.
I usually go in the afternoon or evening. Parking isn’t a problem then, though they have only a few spaces just outside their lot, off of Sloat. The bright lights and flags and illuminated Santa and wreaths hanging by the gate all celebrate the season.
Inside, it does feel like a forest. The aisles of trees are sweet-scented with pine and fir. The ground’s always a little damp and covered in pine needles and mulch. Most of the trees tower over my head (which is admittedly not difficult to achieve). I know exactly where to look for our tree: In the aisle near the back, on the right.
And I know what I’m seeking: A tree that’s about 5 feet tall, springy and fresh, bushy and symmetrical. (The symmetry always seems important initially; by the time it’s covered with ornaments, it will matter far less. But each year, we forget that; each year we seek the perfect tree.)
I told the lady running the tree lot I’d blog about them. Were they a family-run business?
“Oh yes! And we’ve been here for twenty years,” she told me.
Was there anything they’d like to say? I inquired.
“Oh, I don’t know… maybe that we sell Silver Tips? Not many places have those. People come all the way from Marin and San Jose for them.” (They had a selection of Douglas Fir, Nobles, and Silvertips. We always get a Noble, ourselves.)
She attended to the purchase of our tree, and filled out the paperwork while in the background, some helpers put it on a vibrating platform to shake off the excess needles.
“And I guess we do flocking. Not many people do that any more.” I don’t want flocking on my tree, but I could see into the flocking tent, where they had trees in red, white and blue.
But I don’t go to Emerald Forest for flocking or Silvertips. My reason’s much simpler: They deliver.
Not only do they deliver, they bring the tree right into my living room, and set it up for me in the tree-stand I’ve had for years.
And they remember my name, even though I only see them once a year. Quite a feat, that. I don’t think I could match it.
# # #
This afternoon we stopped at the Manor Cafe at West Portal. It was all lights, garland, and festive display. A carousel turned, a Santa climbed a ladder, a toy box held moving miniature skaters. (“It’s a lot of work,” they said when I complimented them on the decorations.) If you like Christmas kitsch — as I do — it was worth it!
With coffee, I ordered the mango pudding. I was glad I did. It had an authentic mango flavor, and was drizzled with raspberry sauce and circled with berries.
All in all, an instant mood lift.