It’s really starting to feel a lot like Christmas here at our house. We went out and got a Christmas tree today. We’d been a bit concerned about acquiring one — we don’t have a car, so we wouldn’t be able to transport it very far (although we do have a wagon). And we’d also heard they do Christmas trees as a very “last minute” thing here (they typically aren’t put up, or at least revealed, until Christmas Eve) and we wanted to have ours a bit sooner. Really, we didn’t know how the experience would be different, and I knew we’d end up with a tree one way or another.
They definitely do trees later here — we bought ours this morning and I suspect we were among the first customers this Christmas tree stand had this year. They set up earlier in the week, but today was the first day I’d actually seen them open . . . December 17, the Saturday before the weekend that includes Christmas. We’ll have our tree up for a whopping 8 days before Christmas (7 days as Austrians count it, because their big celebration is the 24th, not the 25th).
Otherwise, though, the experience is remarkable only in how similar it is to home. We weren’t going to go out into the wilderness to cut one down (especially not having a car) so we were very lucky to have a Christmas tree stand open up at the end of the block across from ours. They had lots of trees, big and small (as little as about 2′, all the way up to about 10′). They had two different varieties, neither of which I recognized by name, but both of which looked like Christmas trees are supposed to look — the cheaper variety had bendier branches. By the looks of them, tree farms here do less “trimming” than the ones at home — these were less classically shaped, with fewer cut branches to make the shape, but not much different. They had a huge measuring stick, about 3 meters high, that they carried around to measure any prospective trees for us (to make sure it would really fit in the house — I usually just use Dan as a measure, but it was nice to have something more official). Benjamin ran around like crazy through the trees, Liam watched and tried not to fall asleep. Then, after we selected one, they netted it up for us, we paid, and carried it home.
It was a pretty familiar experience. I’m glad. This whole “Christmas abroad” thing is enough of an adventure for me. I want my Christmas tree to be pretty simple.