Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Getting a Christmas tree in Amsterdam was an experience we didn't want to miss out on. We knew we'd only have it up for less than two weeks so we didn't want to get a big tree, or spend a lot of money, so the plan was to go down the street to Nieuwmarkt (conveniently located about three blocks away) where they had a stand set up and pick up a cute mini tree.

We walked up to the stand excited and ready to get our Christmas festivities started and I immediately spotted the one. It was an adorable, perfect tree. A noble fir, I think. "This is easy!" I thought to myself. We quickly flagged down the young man who was running the stand and showed him the tree we wanted and asked him the price. 42 Euros. What?! That's about 60 US dollars. And that would be more than we had ever spent on a tree, let alone a 3 footer. I tried to hold back my shock and quickly let go of my dream of my perfect little Fir tree. He explained to us that this type of tree is the best because it doesn't shed as many needles and it smells the best (well duh, we already knew that, that's why we picked it!). He then showed us the cheaper trees. One of the types didn't smell at all. Clearly that wasn't an option. The last type of tree, he explained, still smelled nice but would shed many needles. He told us it was actually the "original" christmas tree and the one we had picked out initially was actually the modern Christmas tree popularized by Western Culture. And lastly, and most importantly, this "original" Christmas tree was the cheapest and would only set us back 15 Euros. Sold! We picked one out and as we were paying asked the kind fellow if they sold stands for a tree this small. He literally told us to not even bother because it would die just as soon with no water. He assured us it would look pretty for the two weeks we'd be in Amsterdam, so we went on our merry way and carried our tree home.

Finding decorations was an adventure in itself. We'd walked by a year-round Christmas shop, the Christmas Palace, in the nearby floating Flower Market many times before so we figured we'd give that a try. To no surprise it was crowded with tourists and when we finally located the lights we found a box that would set us back 20 Euros. Insane! As much as we wanted to decorate our tree and as much we had no idea where else we would find Christmas lights, we could not bear to fork out that kind of cash for a box of lights we could buy for $5 at home. Thankfully as we walked home my genius husband remembered this store he'd been in a couple times that he assured me sold a little bit of "everything" and would surely have some Christmas goodies. Luckily, he was right! We walked out of the store Xenos with lights, ornaments ribbon and garland all for 20 Euros! Success! These are the moments I feel so proud of ourselves for navigating the city and finding things without any help at all. We then went home, lit some candles and cozied up with some Charlie Brown Christmas tunes and decorated our little tree. It was the perfect festive Sunday, indeed.

 {Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}