Our household usually gears up early for the holidays. But this year we have been more than a bit sluggish. I lulled myself into believing things were under control because I bottled over 200 jars of homemade jam, our main giveaway for friends and family this year. And all of our “bulk” gift shopping, those intended for sukis at the markets, service personnel from nurses to village guards and car repairmen, is usually done in one or two Divisoria runs well before November; but I haven’t really done a trip yet. Then the Marketmanila t-shirt and tote program took far more time and effort than I could ever have imagined (and is still on-going), but I can tell it will yield phenomenal positive Christmas cheer… We didn’t even manage a Thanksgiving meal this year, an American tradition, but something I like to do even in Manila, because it sort of signals that “the starting gun has been fired” for the Christmas holidays. So Christmas preparations seemed on hold, on the back burner. That is, until the arrival of this wonderful fresh Christmas tree from S&R. Picking up a fresh tree roughly 4.5 weeks before Christmas is a bit bizarre, but it was now or no fresh tree. This tree is wonderful, particularly considering we are halfway around the planet from where it was raised. Much better than the trees the old S&R Management used to bring in. This is a full 8 feet, nicely shaped and surprisingly VERY fresh despite the long sea crossing from Oregon. I am skeptical that it will make it all the way to Christmas Day, but for the moment, our living room is filled with the most amazing natural pine fragrance.
To maximize our chances of stretching the tree’s life, we cut off about 1-2 inches of the trunk and the sticky sap indicated it was still rather fresh. Next, trim off some of the excess branches at the base of the tree. Place the tree in a Christmas tree stand and fill the base with cool water, using the preservative provided or adding flower food as we do. Check the water twice daily in the first few days. Our tree drank up nearly 3/4th of a gallon of water EVERY day. You must keep re-filling the water so that the tree drinks up as much as possible and recovers a bit from its recent cutting and shipping trauma. After about a week, the thirst will slow and eventually you will notice that the tree has stopped “drinking.” If you SCREW UP on the watering instructions early on, your tree will crisp up a LOT faster than you think, and there is no one to blame ut yourself. We didn’t decorate our tree yet, we just keep staring at it from the couch and oddly, I find myself making excuses to walk by it and take a good long sniff of the pine scent. Even if the tree only last 3 weeks and we decorate our fake tree instead, the scent of the real one is what will kick this holiday season up a notch. We don’t normally put up any Christmas decorations until early December, but maybe this year we will start a little earlier… We placed the extra pine branches in large vases and have them elsewhere in the house and the smell is absolutely wonderful.