The bristly branches of the tree bit into my flesh. Putting my hands on the trunk of the tree felt like sticking my arms into a sticker bush.
I wasn’t for sure what kind of Christmas tree this was supposed to be — except it was the kind that required gloves to handle.
I was not complaining. At long last, I had a tree — and I could get gloves out of the garage.
Thanks to the folks at the Capitol Market, I had maybe the last live cut Christmas tree in the city.
It was the tree I saw abandoned last week on the Market’s outdoor lot. By Friday, it still hadn’t found a home, so Evan Osborn, the interim executive director at the Capitol Market, called and offered it to me.
I had all but given up. I couldn’t find anything I liked or could afford, so I said yes.
As has been mentioned, Christmas trees are in short supply. This year was kind of a perfect storm of fewer trees planted and a sudden spike in demand.
Evan told me he thought a lot of that increased demand had been brought on by the pandemic.
“Last year, people came to get trees. They didn’t have to even come inside the building,” he said. “I think it was a way for them to get out and experience the holiday a little bit.”
This year, with less pressure to stay home, many were celebrating more.
“And if you’ve been working from home,” Evan said. “Maybe you have more time to decorate and go all in for Christmas.”
There were fewer trees because growers had planted based on pre-pandemic expectations for what the public wanted and now that had changed, but Evan told me there were still trees to be had.
A few days before he called me, he said he’d been contacted by a tree supplier who had a flat-bed tractor trailer loaded with trees he offered to bring to the market.
“But by then, all our sellers are gone,” Evan said. “And he wanted quite a bit for the trees.”
It sounded a little too pricey an investment for this late in the season.
For next year, Evan said he was cautiously optimistic. The state has a number of Christmas tree growers, but they were relatively new growers and just didn’t have stock or enough stock to fill all the orders.
As I accepted the tree, Evan asked me, “So, what’s cooler, getting the first Christmas tree in Charleston or the last?”
“Hands down, the last is best,” I said and thanked him.