There have been more than a few times that I’ve felt like I was living in a foreign country. One of the more recent was when it was time to find a Christmas tree for my family. The past two years in Manhattan a Christmas tree lot appeared literally at our apartment’s door step. Years prior to that in Seattle, the Christmas tree lots were found on nearly every street corner. This year I kept expecting to see one in the parking lot of the local grocer. Inside, you could find wreaths, poinsettias and garlands. But week after week nothing. Perhaps down the road at the hardware store? Or the gas station? Nope.
You have to understand how limited my world is here in Great Neck. It’s not that far away from work. A 25 minute ride on the Long Island Railroad and a quick subway ride and you’re there. We haven’t had a car since moving from Seattle, so if it’s not within walking distance or on the route to our kids’ school — when we take a taxi for special events — it really doesn’t exist to us. Yes, I know everything should be within our grasp thanks to the world-wide-web, but have you ever tried to “Bing” Christmas tree lots? Forget about it.
So here it is two weeks until Christmas and we don’t have a tree. We start asking random people; the doorman, a maid, the store clerk, a delivery driver – and all give us just a slightly weird, perplexed look and say, “No, not that I’ve seen.”
At this point some are you are asking yourself is this for real. Perhaps like you, for all of my life I’ve always lived in communities that were melting pots, a mix of all ethnicities. While Great Neck does have its mixture, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) is very much in the minority. That said, the people here are very welcoming, the school district is amazing (which is why we moved here from the upper west side) and the restaurants here are awesome. Still, there are cultural differences and on the rare occasion I feel a few stares. For example, there are ten synagogues within the city limits and there is not one English-speaking Methodist church.
However, both my wife and I have degrees in journalism and we don’t give up asking questions. FINALLY (and yes, I used all caps), finally we get a tip. Seems someone tells my wife that there is a sign out front of the Macy’s in the neighboring town of Manhasset telling of a Christmas tree fund raiser going on at the local fire department. Ah ha! I “Bing” fire departments and Macy’s and see there are TWO possibilities. No, I don’t care it’s snowing and 30 degrees. I layer up and head out for a two mile walk in the snow. First stop, no love. About a half mile later I see the sign. And what seems like another half mile I finally find the Fire Station with about two dozen Christmas trees leaning against a fence.
Fast forward an hour or so, with help from a friendly junior fire fighter who volunteered to deliver our holiday prize, we have a Christmas tree! There it sits – in the corner. Still tied up. Why? The city that doesn’t sell Christmas trees apparently also doesn’t sell Christmas tree stands.
Read more about our holiday happenings on Heather Bosch’s Man Cave: “Adventures in Toyland.”