The Dutch love gardens. But given that this is December and plants are hard to keep alive, they'll settle for Christmas trees instead: Christmas tree farmers are everywhere these days, selling their conifers at rock-bottom prices. Literally--we bought ours for €15, and it's at least twice as big as the one we got last year.
Gardening stores such as Intratuin are quick to take advantage of this to bulk up wilting sales in the winter months--the store near our apartment has cleared out all of the deck furniture that clogged the area between the pet section and indoor plants, filling the shelves with fragile glass balls and mountains of tinsel and holly and lights and ornaments and ribbons and angels and stars and....
Suffice it to say that "overkill" is an understatement. Even though it's just one section of the store, the sheer pandemonium of color and lights and glitter are enough to make you never want to see Christmas again. But we braved the ravaging hordes to find the ornaments that we wanted: our tree has traditionally--as of last year--been decorated according to a red-and-gold theme, so this year we continued to enlarge upon it, since our tree was bigger. In addition to the balls, we bought some branches, and a string of pearls.
It adds up. Decorating a tree to look like a store model is an expensive endeavor, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise--so many balls, so much tinsel, and all of it has to be bought...you might think it strange, then, that so many people are so fond of decorating their trees.
But I think the price of a new set of glass balls is but a small price to pay for starting our own little tradition. And at this time of year, that's something special.