A friend of Michelle’s works at Balsam Hill, a maker of highly realistic, exceedingly easy to set up fake Christmas trees, which is how we heard about them. If you ever see a Christmas tree in the background on a TV show, it’s probably one of theirs. They have a warehouse about a half hour north of us that’s open to the public a few times a year and today was one of those days.
Allergies forced a fake tree on us years ago and after fifteen Christmases it was sad, broken-limbed, a total bear to wrestle the heavy, prickly pieces together and it offered very little reward for bothering to do so. The kids finally rebelled and told us flat-out they’d rather we didn’t set up any tree than that we put that thing up again. It looked that bad.
Balsam Hill’s? The hardest part was opening the boxes. Stack, stack, stack, stack, put on the top piece, connect the lights (doing the stacking so their ends are all on the same side), done. Floof out a little if you want. They have some that just you roll out after being stored upside down, flip over with a foot pedal, voila, but we wanted a Scotch pine that didn’t have that feature. Bought it on sale in October (there’s another sale through Monday) and for the first time in my life couldn’t wait to start setting up the Christmas decorations as early as possible because I knew how good this one was going to look and how very long we had waited to be able to say that.
And then, allergies and all, we bought a cheap real wreath at Costco (it stays outside, right?) because the Balsam Hill ones, even at half price, having shot our wad and glad we don’t have to spend that again for a few decades–but I knew which one I wished I had.
Michelle wanted me to see their bird ornaments. I was curious simply to see what this place was like in real life.
I had no intention of spending a dime.
Let’s just say floor samples are a wonderful thing. We got the wreath I had so admired for half off the half off and she found a little tree. Four feet tall, came in a pot as if it were growing out of it. Turns out it was a proof-of-concept that didn’t quite make it into production, or rather, clearly, it did, but the production came to include gold grape clusters and gold long leaves and gold holly leaves and gold long needles mixed in with the pine cones and green needles that are a mixture of short and long-and-brushy. Hers has some new-growth-type tips the production model doesn’t. Hers was a floor model that didn’t even work as a floor model and with the branches squished up and not-yet-floofed, nobody else had beaten her to it. But it was absolutely beautiful. Their photos don’t do justice.
Neither her tree nor our wreath came with the box or handling gloves or 3-year warranties that they mail such things with.
But hey. The production version of her tree is listed at $219. Despite some effort they just could not get the lights to work; they shrugged and went eh, and gave it to her for all of $15.
And then they loved how thrilled she and we were.
She was happy, we were happy, and re the wreath, now, um, we didn’t need the Costco one.
We got home and I called a friend: Do you have, do you want…?
Off to the hardware store. Cheap plastic that tried too hard or a nice-looking, simple, sturdy metal over-the-door wreath hanger, $4, either one. Not a hard decision.
All of which is why I am so very tired (oh and did I mention we stopped by our favorite bakery while we were in Burlingame? And ran a couple of other errands, too?) Such a long day.
And everybody came away happy. It was worth every minute.
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