Yes Virginia, there is Christmas in Los Angeles. There is even snow, sort of. Yes, as Julia, Brantlea & I were exiting the movie theater at The Grove yesterday (after seeing Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire -- fantastic!), we noticed something... strange. Out of the ordinary. Unusual. There was this random white stuff falling from the sky in little puffs. Just about anywhere else in the country, that white stuff would be snow, but here in L.A., it is foam. On the rooftops of the shops, foam machines were pumping little bits into the air. I guess they've been doing this for the last few years, but since I normally avoid malls during the holidays like the plague, I'd never seen it. People were gawking, gazing in wonderment at the fake snow. I admit, it was kind of fun, in a so-cheesy-it-can't-be-real, L.A. Story kind of way.
We bought our Christmas tree last night. When it comes to trees, I take the nostalgic route. The tree must maintain its relative mass and height to when I was 8 years old. So, when I was 8, and about 4 ft tall (give or take), and we had a 6 ft tree, it seemed huge. Of course, we lived in a 1960s tract home with low ceilings, so it seemed sky high. Now, being 30, and 5'5" (give or take), and living in a 1930s apartment on the top floor with 10ft ceilings, said tree must be a bit larger. That sucker better be at least 7 1/2 ft tall. So living in central LA, that annual trek to the Christmas tree lot is not going to be cheap. And how much did we spend on that tree?
$75. For a basic 7 1/2 ft Douglas Fir (not even getting near the fancy Nobles). Believe me, they went much higher in price, but I couldn't bring myself to shell out $95 for a tree that will be dead in a few weeks. Call it a matter of principle.
Getting the tree into that 1930s apartment is always a bit of a challenge. After spending now 9 Christmases in the apartment, we've got it down to a science. Wrap the tree in plastic (those Christmas tree disposal bags work well) before carting it into the building. By working together, Richard & I can squeeze the tree & one person into the elevator (the tiny one with the cute grate you have to pull across). Then the other person runs up to the 4th floor to open the elevator door (since the 1st person is squeezed against the elevator wall and can't reach the door). We then have the challenge of manuvering a 7 1/2 ft long tree into the apartment, which opens the onto a wall and you have to turn an immediate left into a very narrow hallway. Somehow, we manage not to knock down every picture frame (especially not my prized possession -- the "Vote Willie Nelson for President in 2004" poster). Then we place the tree in the old-fashioned tree stand (the one with the screws that drill into the tree trunk and kill my fingers). Then we pull the plastic bag off, which has mostly contained the needles and assorted naturey stuff that falls off the tree.
Sounds great, right? Until, that is, I squeeze around the tree to put the light up, and the tree falls over. We unscrew the stand, rescrew, and it falls over again. The tree actually fell over 3 times last night. We finally took the tree out of the stand and realised that the stand has been banged around so much that it's not straight anymore. FYI, by the time we saw this, it was about 10:05 p.m. So Richard heads over to Target (where we saw nice, shiny tree stands on Saturday) and of course, they are out of them. When Rich gets back at about 11 p.m. (he had to circle looking for parking, since Monday is a street cleaning day, i.e. on one side of the street you have to move your car by 8 a.m.), he has to fish the old stand out of the dumpster and we have to carefully jury-rig the tree in the stand so it doesn't fall over before we can track down a new stand.
So Santa, if you're reading this, please let Richard find a new stand at the Target by his office today. Don't let my $75 tree die before Christmas. I need something to remind me that it is Christmas time, even in L.A. And it needs to be something less cheesy than foam snow.