A Christmas tree for Scarface

A storm brewing over the tree farm, or my finger over the lens?

A storm brewing over the tree farm, or my finger over the lens?

Suppose you’re feeling down because you fell and broke your face, and nothing has seemed right since. What could cheer you up more than going out to cut a Christmas tree on a bright sunny day, unless of course you are Jewish, in which case, it wouldn’t cheer you up at all. But, since I am not Jewish, is was just the what I needed.

Best Husband and I loaded up the family van, which ironically, has no family at all to ride in it, and headed out with the required accoutrements:

  • a genuine 1960’s snowmobile suit, a wardrobe staple since our kids were old enough to be embarrassed by their parent’s outfits
  • a beat-up orange hand saw, rescued from my dad’s garage, also circa 1960
  • old shoes and boots for slogging through the tree farm mud
  • an entry coupon for the tree farm’s annual  “Win $500 dollars” drawing, which we have dutifully completed since 1974, and as far as we know, has never been won by anyone

A half hour later we had reached our destination: a family owned local Christmas tree farm, which despite being within spitting distance of my childhood home, I had never visited until I grew up, moved away  and married the man with the snowmobile suit.

Being Christmas tree pros, we headed right to the Douglas Fir section. Eschewing our usual tactic of wandering around among 50 to 75 trees and finally picking one when we were too cold to no longer care, we instead drove to the far end of the Douglas Fir section, ogling the choices along the way. In the end, when we finally got out to walk among the tree choices, we picked the second one we saw. This sure beats our usual method of letting our frozen brains make the choice, and was ironic to boot, since the day was especially balmy for Michigan, and we could have afforded to wander among the trees for some time without risk of freezing.

Best Husband, grounded.

Best Husband, grounded.

The rest of our cut your own Christmas tree tradition involved our handing over the tree to underpaid tree farm workers, who stand out in the cold all day and half the night from Thanksgiving to December 24th, putting trees through the shaker and baler and helping city folks load them into their yuppie vans and SUVs. Sometimes this includes broad gestures and lots of nodding if the workers happen to be non-English speaking migrants, which only adds to the charm of this annual event.

Once home, our tree awaits the appropriate time for decorating, as BH and I are not the kind of people who put up Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving.

Trees for Christmas Future.

Trees for Christmas Future.

Related post:

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Kling (huffygirl.wordpress.com)

Christmas shopping=bah humbug (huffygirl.wordpress.com)

© Huffygirl 2013



No Christmas tree? No problem

One Christmas three years ago, our house was in a disarray. We were in the midst of a kitchen-family room remodeling project. We had moved our entire kitchen and dining room into the living room because of the construction. There was no room for a Christmas tree. We had been miserable for a month with no heat in the construction part of the house, no kitchen, and no room. But I was determined that amidst this mess we would somehow save Christmas and have at least a little Christmas tree. I had a little Norfolk pine tree. On a trip to Ireland a few years earlier, I had bought a bottle labeled “Magic Christmas Spray.” Could my magic spray save Christmas? I read the directions:”Magic Christmas spray is very powerful. Use sparring.” I decided to give it a try.

 I took the little tree, sprayed a little bit of Magic Christmas Spray, stood back, and voila’ – a Christmas tree just the right size to fit in the middle of our construction mess.

Merry Christmas to all and peace to you wherever you are this time of year.

© Huffygirl 2011

Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting

When you’re three years old, waiting for anything is hard, but waiting for Santa is probably the hardest.

Camped out waiting for Santa
Guest photographer Chris Barry snapped this photo and titled it “Camped out waiting for Santa,” after three-year-old Maddie snuggled in to join baby brother Zach under the Christmas tree. What fun to be three years old again, waiting for Christmas and all the magic it brings.
© Huffygirl/Chris Barry  2011

I’m not the Lorax, but I speak for the trees

Christmas in the post-War United States

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Turns out there is quite a science to keeping the needles on Christmas trees. NPR’s Science Friday recently hosted a discussion with Raj Lada, Professor and Founding Director of the Christmas Tree Research Center in Nova Scotia. You can listen to the interview here: http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/201012106

In the meantime, here’s the basics from Dr. Raj on keeping your Christmas tree needles attached. The crux of the issue is ethylene, which causes the needles to separate from the tree, aka drop. Ethylene is the same gas that helps fruit ripen. One can prevent ethylene formation by tricking the tree into thinking it is still growing, by watering it and giving it light, or by blocking the ethylene receptors so ethylene cannot become active. That is where kling comes in.  https://huffygirl.wordpress.com/category/satire-friday/

Although the makers of kling do not explain the process in their literature, it seems logical that kling either slows ethylene production or blocks ethylene receptors, which slows/prevents needle drop. 

The interview is short and informative, so you may want to give it a listen. And be sure to accept that paper slip of kling when you pick out your Christmas tree. Turns out it does something after all!

 Related Articles

  © The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It wouldn’t be Christmas without kling

Photo credit: Forest Products LLC

It’s a Christmas tradition. For the last 36 years my family and I have gotten a “real” Christmas tree. Some years we bought one precut from the tree lot. Lately we’ve gone out to cut our own. We’ve had Scotch Pine, Blue Spruce, Concolor, and this year for the first time, Frasier Fir. No matter what the tree, no matter where we’ve gotten it, one thing remains constant: we always drop the 3 x 5 slip of kling into the tree stand water. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without kling.

So what is kling anyway? All these years the Christmas tree seller folks convinced us we need kling in order to have a safe, beautiful Christmas tree. Every year the clerk at the tree farm solemnly hands me the kling paper and says “Be sure to put this in the water for your tree. It keeps the tree fresh.” So how does kling work anyway? Or does kling work? For all we know, kling might just be a slip of red and green paper with no special properties whatsoever. It could be the equivalent of elephant repellent. A well-orchestrated ruse fabricated by the tailor of  the emperor’s new clothes. The folks at the kling factory may sit around every December 26th, drinking Budweiser and laughing about how they pulled off another year of selling tree farmers batches of useless paper. It’s time to find out. kling – genuine tree preservative, or genuine Christmas hoax? 

So how does one go about finding out what really is in kling? It’s a well-guarded secret. I started with the slip of kling paper itself. No help here. It’s a simple red and green paper picturing a Christmas tree and Santa. On one side Santa proclaims “kling makes your Christmas tree last longer!” Underneath are the simple instructions – select a fresh tree, keep the water stand full, drop kling in the water. The other side shows Santa proclaiming “Use kling at Christmas. It preserves your tree,” followed by general instructions for recycling your Christmas tree back to nature. And at the bottom, the requisite disclaimer “Not for consumption.” for those who were thinking about eating their slip of kling. Not much help here. No ingredients listed. No explanation or folksy story. But it is endorsed by Santa. Next,  I went where everyone goes for answers – the internet.

 The web site for Forrest Products LLC, the makers of kling, is strangely uninformative regarding kling’s mechanism of action. It gives pricing information, ($85.00 for 1,000 kling sheets), testimonials (“My customers swear by these”) and other general information to encourage people to use kling. (“Millions of kling cards have been used in the past 50 seasons.”) 

So darn it, is anybody going to tell me what kling is and how it works? Must I conduct my own experiment by having two Christmas trees, one with kling and one without, in order to find the answer? Well, it turns out the answer is there after all. Straight from the makers of kling under the tab labeled “kling” of course, is the explanation of kling’s success. 

kling cards are impregnated with a product, that when absorbed by the tree with water from the tree stand, greatly reduces needle drop. Briefly, kling delays the formation of the abscission layer that forms between the parent twig and each needle. Once formed, the abscission layer cuts off the supply of water to the needle. Thus, kling prolongs the water supply and improves needle retention.” http://www.forestproductsllc.com/kling.html

Makes sense. kling is impregnated with a “product.” What is the freaking product? No clue.  Guess we’ll never know. And kling delays the formation of the abscission layer. Abscission layer? Really? Sounds plausible, scientific, yet somewhat nebulous and mysterious. But hey, endorsed by Santa, a 50-year tradition, why wouldn’t everyone want to use kling? I wonder if it keeps the elephants away too?

(To the makers of kling: I’m sure your product is great but I couldn’t resist a little Christmas satire.  Thanks for 50 years of keeping our trees fresh!)

Photo credit: http://www.forestproductsllc.com/kling.html

 © The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.