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(The view from behind Scott’s “pace” truck)

This past weekend we made our annual pilgrimage to cut our Xmas tree. Over the past 15 years,  Scott and I have been to at least five different tree farms (in Maryland and Pennsylvania). For the past several years, we have headed just a few miles up the road, to the wonderful Elizabeth Tree Farms. They have a small petting zoo, free hot cocoa, a holiday gift shop, and horse-drawn wagons.

(The view from my seat on the wagon)

My attitude on these excursions has ranged from mostly pleasant to downright hostile — in direct correlation with the weather and the amount of time we have to spend out in it. 

It’s not hard to figure out. When it’s unseasonably warm, I’m overdressed and prone to crankiness. If it’s cold and windy — I’m unhappy. If an icy rain breaks out, I’ll meet you back at the car.

My husband, on the other hand, as a former cross country runner AND ice hockey player, is incapable of comprehending the negative impact that freezing rain and/or 30 mph wind gusts have on my attitude.

Combine this with the quest for the “perfect tree”, and it could be a long day on the mountainside. Don’t get me wrong, I like a nicely-shaped douglas fir as much as the next person, but my criteria for said tree diminishes in proportion to how long we’ve been looking. For his part, Scott can walk up to the 200th tree we’ve seen, two hours into the search, and proclaim it to be a good possibility (for when we narrow down the search down to our top 5 trees). Shoot me now!

After all these years, I’ve developed an exit strategy, and I’d like to share it with you. You may have already gotten your tree for the year, but this approach can be used in all sorts of other situations, like shopping for homes, cars, pets, and sofas.

Rule #1 – NEVER display excessive excitement about the first (or second) tree you lay your eyes on. It gives the impression that you are willing to walk out of  there with any old thing and implies a lack of commitment to the hunt.

Rule #2 – Harshly CRITIQUE your partner’s first several “possibles”. Again, this shows commitment to getting it RIGHT. 

Rule #3 – When you think that you can’t spend another minute looking, show reserved interest in the next tree you see. If your partner agrees that “this one is definitely a possibility”, SLOWLY ramp up your enthusiasm until you can convincingly put forth that you cannot envision your life without this very tree (sofa, dog, etc.).

Trust me, it works. Before you know it, you’ll be writing the check and helping your partner strap that sucker to the roof of your SUV or truck (great for trees and sofas — not so much for pets…)

And the winner this year was…..

BEFORE

 AFTER

With a quarter inch to SPARE!

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