Frozen Christmas Trees In The Tropics
“You learn,” said the man in the parka and scarf with a grin as he pushed through the door into the refrigerated room and nearly collided with the bunch of us huddled together in a big shuddering mass. “You learn to come dressed for the occasion,” he continued.
The man was followed by a woman and two children, also wearing parkas and scarves. The kids wore gloves.
Kaitlin in her sundress and Jackson in his T-shirt and shorts had wrapped their arms around themselves to try to stop the shivering.
“Most of the year, they store meat in here,” the man explained. “Then, in November, they convert the room to a tree house.
“This is the best place in Panama to buy a Christmas tree,” he went on. “They bring the trees in here as soon as they’re delivered from Canada.
“I’ve been living in Panama for 40 years. Moved here from California when I was young. We buy our tree here every year. Everywhere else selling Christmas trees around Panama just sits them out in the heat and the sun. Plus, the trees here are bigger and rounder than you find anywhere else. Take one of these home, unwrap it, and let it thaw out, and, tomorrow, your whole house will smell like a pine forest.”
I was sold. Besides, we were all too cold to spend much time deliberating. We told the young Panamanian standing by to help that we’d like four of the tallest trees he had, took one more deep pine-scented breath, and then ran back outside to the tropical sunshine.
We loaded the four trees into the back of our truck and then drove around town to deliver each to its holiday home–one to Kaitlin’s apartment, one to a friend’s apartment, one to the office, which the staff will help trim tomorrow, and one to our house, which we’ll decorate today.
Our parka-clad friend was right. This morning, the house smells like a pine forest.
P.S. If you also happen to be in the market for a Christmas tree in Panama City, the place to go is Tzanetatos off Transistmica. Wear a coat.