Sex & Love

F*ing The Christmas Tree Guy

Barely before the Thanksgiving leftovers are in the fridge and that last dish is washed, Christmas invades the New York City like the traditional consumerism orgy that it has become.  Stores decorate garishly in glitter, tinsel and twinkly lights, people … Read More

By / December 7, 2009

Barely before the Thanksgiving leftovers are in the fridge and that last dish is washed, Christmas invades the New York City like the traditional consumerism orgy that it has become.  Stores decorate garishly in glitter, tinsel and twinkly lights, people begging for money on the trains

deliberately remind you “it’s the season for giving,” and various street corners become miniature pine forests populated by burley Canadians with their fragrant evergreens available for ready money.

If you’ve ever been to New York in December, you’ve probably walked through one of these random street corners lined with trees wrapped in large hair nets and strings of bulbish lights precariously dangling from red wooden stakes.  Tucked within the trees is almost always a shabby little shack cobbled out of bits and pieces with perhaps a bit of heat to protect and provide comfort from the elements to these sentinel street vendors who indefatigably hock their wares. Walking through these temporary showrooms can be a briefly transformative experience.  The street noise dampens slightly, the scent of pine sap gently assails your nostrils, and for a moment you don’t feel you are in a loud bustling city of eight million people.  Perhaps it was this feeling that sparked the romance. Several years ago I had an ecologically conscientious roommate.   She cared about the environment so much that she never flushed the toilet.  Purportedly this omission of common courtesy was an effort to save water, but it only really resulted in pissing off her roommate who – with my own standards of sanitation – would flush twice.  That and her other earth-saving tricks made me conclude that she really would be much happier in life living in a cabin in the woods.  This conclusion was reinforced by her December fling – our Christmas Tree Guy. Our neighborhood Christmas tree stand was only about a hundred yards from our apartment and directly in the path to our closest subway stop.  So it wasn’t uncommon to walk through the trees several times a day.  First it was, “oh, I’m just bringing the Christmas Tree Guy some coffee,” she’d giggle as she ran out the door with a travel mug in hand.  Then there was a dinner date.  Not too long after came the late night moans and the ecstatic rhythmic thuds of Christmas Tree Guy sex. The next morning my walk to the subway was a vicarious walk of shame.  “Oh hi,” I bashfully managed, “you know, the walls in our apartment are really thin.”  But the Christmas Tree Guy turned out to be very sweet.  He was a forest ranger by trade, but during the winter makes good money by selling Christmas trees.  When we wasn’t on duty, he shared a tiny apartment with about 15 other guys.  He said people were generally friendly and welcoming, bringing him coffee and snacks, but even so I suspected my roommate was the only one providing carnal comforts.  The local street gang had dubbed him “Tree Guy” and helped protect his trees from petty theft.  The only trouble he said that he was having was with the bank at the street corner where his trees were set up.  They would argue about where he could place his wares and hassled the vendors until the Christmas Tree Guy posted a sign that said “***** Bank Hates Christmas.”  Christmas eventually won. But Christmas trees, obviously, are the biggest and most obvious symbol of, well, Christmas – a Christian holiday.  In my journey to become Jewish one of the big questions many Jews by Choice who had Christian backgrounds are faced with is – what do you do about Christmas?  That, is basically what my roommate asked as she started bringing home trees.  Perhaps it was her hyper ecological savvy, but she only brought home live trees – the little ones in tiny pots.  They were just green needle covered plants pruned to roughly resemble the conical shape of Christmas trees.  She never decorated them, although she did dress a bookcase in steady white lights, but those had stayed up all year and were turned on occasionally for mood lighting.  But nonetheless our apartment was beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and I was trying to be Jewish. December came and went and our apartment contained a half dozen little trees and one large one in a big pot that the Christmas Tree Guy had wrapped in a black plastic bag and asked me to drag home to surprise my roommate.  Their romance trickled to a near stop by February since he had retuned to Canada and the long distance diminished the interest.  But November of the following year she got a phone call from the Christmas Tree Guy and by the time he returned to the City things were hot and heavy again. That year he didn’t gift us with nearly as many trees.  Perhaps since we had managed to kill all of them in fairly quick succession.  Our apartment did smell strongly of pine when he would shed his multiple layers of work clothes, but that was about as much Christmas as we had in the apartment. We both moved after that.  But when I walked through a street corner last week, breathing in the sweet smell of pine, I wondered what our Christmas Tree Guy was up to this year.  Was he back at our street corner?  Does he keep in touch with his December lover?  Although my life is so recognizably Jewish now I won’t forget that during a period of questioning Christmas in my conversion process, I was very intimately – if vicariously – exposed to a lot of Christmas trees.