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Putting Up the Tree Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

14 December 2022

Yesterday we took a short drive to buy a cut tree in the middle of the day. Whatever possessed us?

We envy the neighbors up the street who, every December 1, unfold their artificial tree, lights and all, with the same tasteful ornaments hung in mere minutes. From the sidewalk it looks as real as any real tree and it is particularly nicely decorated.

But not us.

No, every year we drive off to a lot and inspect the noble firs cut down in the prime of life and frozen for the trip to the city. There is something wrong with every one of them. That's a feature. It's what makes them real.

We do try to avoid the bent trunk or a skewed top but we know there are going to be holes to fill with lights and ornaments.

This year the price for our usual size (which requires a couple of bricks under the tree stand to make it to the ceiling) was $140 at the garden center we usually visit where they are kept in water. Tiny ones were $90.

So we ventured off to a big box store where we buy rodent control products and various household hardware to shore up Mom's place. And we found one just a big smaller than our brick size for $70. Deal.

We put it on an old end table we've used in the past for trees this size. It makes them look just as big and keeps them nicely off the floor. After nearly 50 years of this, we have solutions for everything.

We've gotten good at straightening the tree in the stand. Decades ago we were so bad at it that some guy walking down the street came up, rang the bell and offered to help.

And we've solved the mystery of how to hang the lights (in quarters like cutting pie).

But this year there was a new wrinkle. Our Wemo smart plug wasn't responding to Google home.

We'd moved Google home to the new router earlier this year. But we hadn't moved the plug. This turned into a ridiculous adventure that took three hours to resolve after going down a lot of dead alleys.

A large part of the problem is the user interface of Belkin's app. It insisted we scan the QR code on the plug. That's on a label on the back of the plug so you have to unplug it, losing the WiFi connection to do it. We might have thought of using an extension cord but it turns out we found a better solution hidden by the app's design.

You can, it turns out, just enter the eight-digit code on the label. No need to scan. So we wrote it down and punched it in and eventually it connected to our network. We enabled the schedules for the morning when the kids come to school up the block and the evening. And collapsed. Ornaments later.

The ethics of buying a cut tree every year used to give us pause. But as we get older and older, we realize we're all cut trees in the cycle of life.

That notion might seem disturbing in itself except that the thought we'd never have to put up another tree again is no small comfort.

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