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Yeah. I think that explains it pretty well.

You see I grew up in the pine forests of northern Idaho. Our team mascot in high school was the Lumberjack. I have never in a quarter century of life spent my hard-earned dimes on some convenient Christmas timber with perfect symmetrical branches, neatly twined and delivered to your vehicle by rosy-cheeked Boy Scouts. Rather I am of the mind that rituals of holiday tree hunting should include terrain that tests the endurance, multiple layers of foul weather gear and a five-mile boomerang hike. This route ends at the tree closest to the house that you first wrote off as “hmmm … not quite big enough” but which, it turns out, is one foot taller than the room you wrestle it into.

Thus it was with some anxiety I planned for my first non-Idaho Christmas tree.

Sitka is surrounded by Tongass National Forest which is mostly Hemlock and (surprise!) Sitka Spruce. Not the trees I’m used to trimming nor do I want to find a ticket for swiping national timber in my stocking on Christmas morn. Buying from the Scouts is an even bigger blow to the ego up here because I know the trees come up on the barge from Seattle. (During salmon season, I’ve opened the shipping container with a floor full of needles. I know their secret.)

On Saturday morning, I had a plan, and it didn’t involve law breaking or caving.

Since my wonderful cabin hermitage is a rental, stumps probably aren’t the smoothest path to a returned deposit. There are a so many branches on those trees, however, that I’m sure no one would miss just a few. So I bought little pruning clippers at the hardware store and did some landscaping. When I had a sizeable heap of boughs on the deck, I realized my frankentree would need some accessories – bucket, rocks, zip ties, thumbtacks – to come to life.

A quick trip to work to borrow a bucket, a rock gathering expedition in the sleet, and I was ready to create.

I placed the boughs in the bucket against one of the few non-sloped, non-window walls of the cabin. They looked like a festive Hemlock bouquet, but I needed a makeshift Christmas tree. With the big rocks, I pressed the branches against the aft curve of the bucket vase and arranged them in size order (longer in the back). Using my trusty zip ties (my god I love zip ties), I bunched some of the boughs into vague tree shape. Thumbtacks secured the long branches to the wall, and I had a pretty fine fucking two-dimensional holiday shrub.

Some scraped together lights, ornaments, candy and sparklies, and my masterpiece was complete.

First the technical shots:

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(Behold its two-dementiality)

And now in amazing Technicolor:

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(Choirs of angels, I know.)

In conclusion, I hiked around in deep mud; I gathered big ass rocks in constant drizzle; I wore my rain gear, and my perfect “tree” ended up being right on my doorstep. Tradition was upheld, the hunt was successful and baby Jesus was appeased. Amen.