by Norsebard

Contact: norsebarddk@gmail.com





This flimsy Xmas vignette belongs in the Uber/Original category. All characters are created by me, though they may remind you of someone.

All characters depicted, names used, and incidents portrayed in this story are fictitious. No identification with actual persons is intended nor should be inferred. Any resemblance of the characters portrayed to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

The registered trademarks mentioned in this story are © of their respective owners. No infringement of their rights is intended, and no profit is gained.

This story depicts a loving relationship between consenting adult women. If such a story frightens you, you better click on the X in the top-right corner and find something else to read.



Written: November 2018.

- Thank you for your help, Phineas Redux :)

- In case you're wondering what the Elf those ' æbleskiver ' are that Cecilie and Regitze enjoy so much, here's a good article on the subject over at Wikipedia:


As usual, I'd like to say a great, big THANK YOU to my mates at AUSXIP Talking Xena, especially to the gals and guys in Subtext Central. I really appreciate your support - Thanks, everybody! :D

Description: Sunday, December ninth: The holiday season is just around the corner and it's time to get a nice tree. An interesting flyer prompts Cecilie and Regitze Clausen to drive to a local gardening center that offers its customers a chance to fell their own Christmas tree. Almost as expected, the picky Regitze has a hard time finding one that matches her lengthy list of requirements, and that's when the little niggles begin to grow into problems…





Sunday, December ninth - a date that would long be remembered in the Clausen household as the very definition of the old saying 'It may be funny now, but it was a non-stop pain in the you-know-what at the time…'


It was a chilly but sunny day - or sunny but chilly, depending on the spectator's point of view. Cecilie Clausen had little time for how others viewed that particular Sunday. Being the perfect example of the rugged outdoorsy type, she enjoyed every day of every season. The dense forests and the wide-open, undulating fields surrounding their sleepy village on southern Zealand offered countless wonders on a daily basis all year round, and Cecilie could frequently be found trekking off the beaten footpaths to get a close-up view of nature's many splendors.

Though she had less to do at work during the winter months, she was never short of things to get her hands dirty on in her beloved garden. Even beyond that, she had posted a message on the local community website offering free gardening tips or hands-on assistance for those unable to do it themselves. The message had not given her as much extra work as she had hoped it would, but even the odd hour every other weekend provided her with plenty of joy.

At present, she had her gloved hands stuffed into her blue down jacket while she peeked into the engine bay of the metallic-blue Skoda Fabia she co-owned with her wife Regitze. They had agreed to drive to a gardening center to buy a Christmas tree for the upcoming holiday, but it seemed something had come between Regitze Clausen and the meticulously laid plans.

Cecilie pushed her John Deere Special Products baseball cap back from her forehead so she could scratch her nut-brown hair. The cap was soon back where it belonged: sitting low across her eyes which made her look even more rugged than what her lined blue-jeans and dark-gray safety boots could do on their own.

She had already checked the engine oil and every other imaginable fluid found up front twice so there was very little to be gained by doing so for a third time. A quick peek at her telephone proved it was already seven minutes past one in the afternoon. At that time of the year, dusk would begin to fall at no later than a quarter to four, so if they wanted a Christmas tree - and they did - they really needed to get a move on. Grunting, she lowered the hood and began to shuffle around the neat car. A few tires were duly kicked and both side mirrors were wiped clean while she waited.

Just when Cecilie thought it had all been called off, her wife locked the front door of their house and hurried down the garden path. The crisp sounds of the crunching gravel under her swift feet were soon replaced by the ka-lonk produced by the wooden garden gate as she pulled it shut and secured the cast iron latch that Cecilie had installed herself.

Like Cecilie, Regitze Clausen - whose main income came from being a book translator; she also had a popular blog going on the wonderful world of knitting and sewing - wore a heavy down jacket though hers was held in a shade known as Old Rose. She wore a home-made knitted cap in a matching color that had been pulled down to below her ears, and her delicate fingers were well protected by fleece gloves. "Sorry I'm late! Mom called!" she said as she ran past the garden shed on her way out to the carport. Once she reached the Skoda, she hurried up along the passenger-side of it, opened the front door and hopped onto the comfortable seat.

"No worries… the sun's still out so we can still make it," Cecilie said as she opened the other door, sat down and got herself into position behind the wheel. Since they were both registered as co-owners, they always shared driving duties equally depending on what each of them felt like on the day - on this particular trip, Regitze would be busy reading the gardening center's flyer which meant the steering wheel was Cecilie's.

The Skoda started at once and the knobs for the climate control were soon pushed into place. Pleasantly warm air soon flowed through the many vents on and underneath the dashboard, and it prompted Cecilie to take off her gloves even before they had left their carport.

"Wanna listen to some music?" Regitze said with her finger hovering over the buttons on the integrated radio. When Cecilie nodded, she hit the left one which allowed the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby to greet them from the many speakers.


Driving south on the two-lane country road to get to the gardening center, Cecilie hummed along to the old Yuletide evergreens. Regitze went one step further and belted out every last word of Wham's Last Christmas when it came on as the next song.

When that particular ageless favorite faded down and was replaced by a novelty hit from the 1970s - that Cecilie considered far less funny than what everyone else seemed to think - Regitze shuffled around in the seat so she could dig her right hand into her down jacket's pocket. Retrieving a four-wing flyer, she opened it to look at the colorful pictures. "I hope this'll be fun… I think it will be. I mean, how often do you actually get to go out in a field and fell the Christmas tree you want to buy?"

"Probably no more than once a year!" Cecilie said and let out a deep chuckle. "Of course, I chop down trees at least four times a week, but…"

Regitze stuck out her tongue at her wife. "True… but you're a special case."

"Aw, thank you!"

They drove on in silence for a short kilometer before everyone's favorite childhood Yuletide song came on: Otto Brandenburg's Søren Banjomus . Soon, the metallic-blue Skoda echoed with the sounds of Regitze and Cecilie's voices singing along to the charming song.


The busy roundabout at the gas station was soon reached; they could already see the gardening center off to their left side, but they had to wait for a long line of cars to trickle through the circular chicane before they could enter the flow of traffic. A delivery truck hauling goods for Riema's Supermarket honked at them for not going fast enough through the one-hundred-and-eighty degree turn, but Cecilie kept her cool and stayed at the speed limit of forty kilometers per hour.

"That fellow should have started half an hour sooner… those people think they own the road," Regitze said as the delivery truck roared off down another of the four connecting roads that spread out from the roundabout. The tall vehicle was soon a good distance away proving the driver had no regard for the speed limit.

"Yeah," Cecilie said as she activated the turning signal to enter the gravelly parking lot in front of the gardening center. "Whenever I use the company van, I drive even more carefully than I do in our own car. I guess some people just don't care."

Regitze let out a grunt as they turned off the larger road and went onto the lot that had more holes than the average golf course. The loose gravel caused chips and stones to rattle off the underside of the car as they were flung up by the tires, but Cecilie made sure not to drive faster than at walking pace so the attractive metallic paint wouldn't be harmed.

"Wow," Regitze said as she took in the abundance of cars and happy people in the nearly-full parking lot. "To fell your own Christmas tree is a lot more popular than I had imagined it would be. Look at all these cars!"

"No kidding… there's hardly any room anywhere…"

"It's a good thing the gardening center has an entire field full of trees we can choose from… otherwise we would've had problems finding a good one for sure."

"Weeelll," Cecilie said as she squeezed the Skoda Fabia in between a Volvo station wagon and a Suzuki four-by-four. "Just because they have a full field of trees doesn't mean they have a full field of good trees… I caught a glimpse of your list of requirements the other night. It's kinda lengthy. Is it really necessary to test the flexibility and structural rigidity of the branches?"

"Yes. The branches need to be strong enough to carry the heavy gold candle-holders Mom gave me last year. She'll expect to see them when she and dad come over on Christmas Eve, so they need to be there," Regitze said as she released her seat belt and allowed it to roll up. When her wife failed to produce a follow-up comment, she cast her a curious glance. "So I'm thorough. You knew that already."

"Ah… yeah," Cecilie said while she looked back at her wife; she broke out in a lop-sided grin as she turned off the engine, rolled up the seat belt and opened the driver's side door.


The gardening center was housed in a wooden building that had such a utilitarian appearance and square-edged, rectangular shape that it looked as if it had been built as a temporary barrack or pavilion once upon a time. Going through the main entrance, the visitor had a choice of either moving to the left to go inside the main building itself, or to the right into a large, thirty-foot-tall greenhouse that was home to thousands of flowers, trees and plants of all shapes and sizes.

Plenty of families mingled around the gravelly forecourt and the paved section between the barrack and the greenhouse. Unlike the negative crowding that could sometimes occur in supermarkets or at popular tourist attractions during the height of summer, the rapidly approaching Christmas holiday period created a joyous atmosphere that saw laughing children and smiling adults galore. Some of the families at the exciting event were represented by three or even four generations: the littlest ones were pushed around in baby strollers while the eldest had taken to wheelchairs or walking frames to be mobile.

Most of the visitors seemed to gravitate toward the barrack so that's where Regitze went too. Cecilie shuffled along in her wife's path at first, but she soon took a detour into the greenhouse to check out what kind of flowers and greenery she should expect to see in the gardens of their clients the following spring.


It took a telephone call for Cecilie to notice that she had zoned out and lost track of time while studying the countless rows of tall, short, bushy or scrawny plants. The call itself was irrelevant - it was a spam call from an insurance company that she cut off the moment the salesperson had introduced himself - but she needed to do a double-take when she read the little clock in the upper-right corner of the telephone's display: a quarter to two had been reached in no time flat while she had been admiring the various products on offer, meaning that a full eighteen minutes had flown by since she had moved into the greenhouse. That fact alone made her groan out loud and hurry across the paved section and into the wooden barrack to find her wife before the inevitable explosion would blow the roof off the entire facility.

Ultimately, there was no need for Cecilie's swiftness nor her concerns about Regitze's patience - or closer to the point: the lack of it. Even after eighteen minutes, the translator had never made it further than the first few shelves.

Regitze carried an armful of decorative greenery when they caught up with each other, but what had really snared her in was a large, elaborate diorama of a traditional Elfin village complete with scores of miniature Yuletide Elves that could be seen in all sorts of traditional Elfin poses.

The magnificent Elfin village was equipped with an ice rink, several snow-covered streets that were home to dozens of Elves and numerous stationary reindeer-sleighs, and a town hall square where a good number of food vendors had lined up their carts and were busy selling snacks near the foot of a tall, beautifully decorated tree. A small Elfin brass band was in the middle of a performance, and the free show had attracted a crowd of Elves who were busy doing various traditional polkas and chain dances.

Further 'north,' a small pine forest had been built that saw a team of rugged lumberjack Elves felling their own Yuletrees just like on the real field outside the gardening center's windows. Further sleighs moved around the diorama pulled by teams of reindeer - or operated by magnets below the table - and there was even a watermill with a working paddle wheel built at a stream.

Even better, everything was illuminated by tiny built-in LEDs that cast warm, glowing light onto the magical scene. Some were static and simply created golden light, but others pulsated between forest-greens, Yuletide-reds and deep-blues which gave everything a strong sense of Christmas coziness and excitement.

"Look, isn't this amazing?" Regitze said without taking her eyes off the grand vista in front of her. "It's made entirely of kits and figurines sold here at the gardening center. I suspect they're kinda pricey, but it would be oh-so-worth it!"

"Mmmm… yeah. Perhaps," Cecilie said while she scratched an eyebrow. Unlike her wife who could spend hours on end swooning over videos of cute cats on Youtube, Cecilie was more of the pragmatic type. Not that she failed to appreciate the craftsmanship involved in building the Elfin village, but it did not stir her soul the same way it did for Regitze. Worse, she could already hear their hard-earned kroner perform a mass exodus from their credit cards. "So… are you ready to head outside to chop down our tree?" she said to take her wife's mind off the Elves.

"Oh look, there's even a- huh? Oh… yeah. Okay," Regitze said as she tore herself away from the display. She kept her eyes on it for as long as possible, but she eventually had to move away.

"Yeah, there are so many people here I think it might take us a while to find a good one… and you need to pay for the decorative greenery as well before we can get to it," Cecilie continued as they walked over to join the end of the line that stretched up to the cash register. She grimaced at the sight; a glimpse of her unfortunate experiences in Fjordby when she was on the ill-fated hunt for the elusive cans of H.E. Fenwyck Master Brew flashed before her mind's eye.

Two steps further on, Regitze came to a dead stop as her eyes caught a sign she had failed to notice before in all her Elfin-induced excitement. The elaborately carved wooden sign had been put up above a dark entryway that seemed to lead to the gardening center's basement. It said: 'Welcome to Elf Springs - the capital of the Elfin world. Explore it all downstairs!' "Oh!" she cried, making a beeline for the dark entryway.

When Cecilie noticed her wife had gone missing, she came to a stop as well and turned around. "Now where' ya going?" she said, pushing her John Deere cap back from her eyes.

"To Elf Springs, the capital of the Elfin world!" Regitze said over her shoulder as she reached the top of the gently sloping staircase.

"Huh. Right. Now there's something you don't hear every day," Cecilie mumbled as she followed her wife downstairs.


There was no need to call Santa's fabled A-Team Elves to request a search-and-rescue operation to be set in motion for Regitze because Cecilie caught up with her only a few moments later. The great enthusiast of all things Yule - and cutesy items in general - had only made it to the foot of the staircase before she had come to a full stop and had spread her arms out wide like she wanted to pull all of Elf Springs in for a hug.

"Oh. My. God," Regitze breathed, staring wide-eyed at the Elfin splendor that presented itself to her in the basement of the gardening center. "Wouldya look at all this! Look! Look over there… and there… oh, and over there, too! There must be hundreds… no, thousands of miniature Yuletide Elves in here! Ohhhh, this is so beautiful!"

Cecilie had to let out a chuckle at not only her wife's boundless enthusiasm but also at the breathtaking dioramas that had been put up in what was described as Santa's Lair. "Uh-huh… it's kinda neat, I'll give you that," she said as she pushed her John Deere Special Products cap back upon her nut-brown locks.

"Hold this," Regitze said and thrust the evergreen branches of the decorative greenery into her wife's arms. "I need to… need to… check this out on the double! Oooooh, and there's a… look! Oh, isn't this wonderful?"

"Uh… yeah," Cecilie said, having barely had time to move her cap back down before her arms had become occupied by the decorative pine branches.

Everywhere they looked, they were greeted by the sight of spectacular set pieces consisting of everything that had ever been connected with Christmas. The roof of the basement had been altered into resembling a starry winter-time sky by adding what appeared to be camouflage netting carrying scores of tiny, blinking LEDs. A row of ten-feet tall artificial Christmas trees had been decked out in multi-colored splendor with each tree getting its own theme from around the world.

Further LED lights and candles flickered here, there and everywhere, and porcelain, resin and ceramic figures and figurines of all kinds graced the countless shelves lining the walls. Four life-sized reindeer puppets pulled a sleigh heavily laden with wrapped presents, and it even had a mechanical Santa Claus sitting atop the buckboard with the reins in his hand - the bearded fellow would utter a few Christmas greetings and stock phrases literally by the touch of a button.

Soft instrumental music featuring plenty of jingling bells and high-pitched Elfin choirs formed the ambient background of Santa's Lair; squealing children - and more than a few adults - took care of the rest of the Yuletide spirit. Regitze, who had caught a full dose of that spirit, grabbed an empty shopping basket and made a determined beeline over to the shelves that stocked a good variety of the miniature Elves.

Cecilie bared her teeth in a worried grimace at her wife's determined stride. Not only could she hear the kroner fly out of their credit cards, she could actually see them spread their wings and fly up to the angels and reindeer sleighs that were zipping about up at the camouflaged ceiling of Santa's Lair on little, magnet-driven rails. "Ah… honey," she said as she set off after Regitze. "Hon, we were supposed to get a Christmas tree…"

"And we will," Regitze said, casting an experienced, critical eye on a pair of lady-Elves that she had picked off a shelf. The miniatures were well-protected inside a plastic bubble that had been attached to a colorful piece of cardboard. "Tell me… do these two remind you of someone?" she said, holding up the lady-Elves so Cecilie could see them - one was a tall brunette and the other was a short redhead.

"Nah… should they?" Cecilie said, studying the figurines without finding too many clues to go on.

Regitze let out a snicker at her wife's legendary lack of imagination when it came to little things like that. "Duh! They look like us!"

"Oh… yeah. I s'pose…"

The flip-side of the cardboard held a visual list of all the products in the Elf Springs range, and Regitze's eyes devoured all the little pictures before they moved up to the shelves near her to see if the Elves she wanted were available to buy.

A wide smile spread over her lips when she spotted several of the magnificently detailed figurines all waiting for her to pick them up and bring them home. After putting the first two lady-Elves into her shopping basket, she took several more off the shelf and studied the intricate craftsmanship. Although they were nothing more than painted ceramic figures, the details of their clothing and facial expressions were so life-like she could not help but fall in love with them right then and there.

"Hon… the tree?" Cecilie tried again, but she gave up the unequal struggle when Regitze's only response was an "Awwwwwwww!" as she moved onto the shelves that carried various accessories for the miniature Elves - like snow-families, baking equipment and musical instruments.

Cecilie had to let out an amused chuckle at the sight of her wife going gaga over the colorful figurines and all the little things that went with them. A slow shaking of the head was soon followed by a disarming grin. There was no point in getting too riled up about it since she was just as bad herself whenever she got near a hardware store: the myriad of power tools, gizmos, gadgets and random electrical doodads that filled every shelf and every wall of their gardening shed back home was proof enough of that.


Another fifteen minutes went by lost in Elfin dreamland before even the insatiable Regitze had had enough of Elf Springs and its miniature Elfin residents. The shopping basket was full as was the broad, content smile that played on her lips. After hooking her arm inside her wife's, they began to stroll back to the staircase to pay for the countless items she had chosen.

"You're happy so I'm happy," Cecilie said as she peeked into the basket that seemed to hold at least twenty figurines of Elves and reindeer in addition to various accessories like sleighs, miniature Christmas trees and a family of snow-people that carried top hats and silk scarves. "I just hope you remembered to bring your credit card, 'cos… uh… I think my boss will kill me first thing tomorrow morning if we have to use the company card."

"Well, of course I did, silly," Regitze said and bumped shoulders with her taller companion. She glanced down at the full basket with eyes that shone as brightly as the many LEDs downstairs in Santa's Lair. "They weren't too expensive after all. I guess it's just shy of a thousand kroner. Maybe a little more. Give or take. It's not like we can't afford it, so who cares."

Cecilie lost a step and nearly dropped the decorative greenery upon hearing the price. She forgot to blink for several seconds as the vast sum of money bounced around the inside of her mind. "A thousand kroner… spent on Elves? Miniature Elves?"

"Yeah. So? That chainsaw you bought just the other week was fifteen-hundred kroner, wasn't it?"

Cecilie had to concede the point, and she did so by shrugging. "Yeah, uh… well, it was closer to eighteen-hundred, actually. But you can't compare the two. That chainsaw is a high-quality piece of equipment that'll last for a decade. A light-weight chassis and a two-speed, heavy-duty drive with a reinforced chain and-"

"And nothing. Didn't you already have a chainsaw in the shed? The one you bought last year?"

"Well… yeah. I s'pose… but that was last year's model," Cecilie said as she reached up to scratch her hair.

Regitze winked. "See what I mean?"

The winking was matched by a sheepish grin offered by the taller woman. Cecilie knew she had suffered a full-on defeat at the hands of her wife - nothing new there - so she decided to bow out of the conflict before it would get any worse. "I yield," she said with another grin.


After dropping off the decorative greenery and what had to be half the Elfin population of Elf Springs in the back of their Skoda Fabia, Cecilie strolled back to the main, wooden barrack to get on with the item of the day's agenda they had actually driven to the gardening center for. On her way there, she cast intrigued glances at families who came back from the open field carrying Christmas trees they had just felled.

The young pines were solid and healthy; most of them appeared to have been cultivated for three or four seasons before they had been approved for logging and thus had good colors. The needles and branches were supple and lush as well which was a good sign. Cecilie's years of hands-on experience working for various gardening service companies - she had seen it all and then some when it came to garden-based horrors - had prompted a certain skepticism when she had initially heard of the concept, but it appeared the owner of the gardening center ran a serious business that offered quality trees for prices that were at least somewhat manageable.

Though Cecilie had a shedful of top-quality saws, axes and other tools that would all have been perfect for chopping down trees no matter the width of the trunk, the customers were meant to rent an ax at a booth manned by one of the gardening center's employees. The modest fee was more than fair, and it all went right back into the independent company's coffers so it could continue taking the fight to the large, well-known chains of hardware stores that tried to butt in on the Christmas-tree market.

Independence was important to Cecilie, and even more so to the man she worked for, so she was only glad to pay the fee of twenty-five kroner for renting the ax. Fully equipped with the wooden handle of the tool resting on the shoulder of her down jacket - like a proper lumberjack - she strolled back to the entrance of the barrack where Regitze was still waiting for her.

"Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work we go!" Regitze said as she caught a glimpse of the polished metal blade.

"You betcha," Cecilie said and put out her arm. It was soon accepted, and it was only a minute longer before they strolled into the field itself to begin their quest for a good, old-fashioned Christmas tree that would match all of the perfectionist lady's requirements.


Since the field that had been set up as a Christmas-tree buffet was located directly next to the country road leading to Fjordby, Cecilie and Regitze had been able to follow the progress of the evergreen trees from mere cuttings to the proper, five or six-foot Yuletide treasures they had become.

Just shy of seventy-thousand square meters in total, the field had been divided into numerous walking paths between the orderly lines of trees; each path had been covered in freshly-made woodchips so the delicate, and no doubt expensive, shoes of the city folks wouldn't be harmed by the clumps of soil that would inevitably stick to them. As a highly experienced outdoorsy-type who'd had everything under the sun sticking to her footwear at one point or another, Cecilie wore the rugged safety boots she used at work, and she had made sure that Regitze had donned a pair of sturdy, all-terrain footwear as well.

Soon, the two intrepid explorers were deeply involved in a faithful re-enactment of the Biblical 'Forty Days in the Wilderness' - or so it seemed to Cecilie. They walked past tree after tree that Regitze only needed to shoot half a glance at to see that they failed to meet her high expectations of what a Christmas tree should look like. The first group of trees carried black labels indicating they were of the highest quality and thus the priciest present at the field, but that fact did not seem to appease Regitze's critical eye nor her sense of esthetics.

The second group they reached carried red labels illustrating the trees were a step down in quality, and thus price, from the first ones. Unlike most of the other happy people they met at the field, Regitze began to pay closer attention to what was on offer in the red group. As a highly experienced arts-and-crafts-person, she looked not for the kind of perfection that was typical of the trees found in the black group, but for character. Plenty of "Hmmm…" and furrowing of her brow followed as they continued along the pathway checking out tree after tree.

Cecilie grinned at the look of deep concentration upon her wife's face. She had often seen it whenever a new knitting or sewing project needed a final check-up before it could be revealed on the blog, or when she was in the closing stages of one of her book translations, but it was rare that it made an appearance on something other than balls of colorful yarn or lines of dry text. Whenever Regitze was in such a mood, there was little point in even attempting to talk to her.

Instead, Cecilie dug into her jacket pocket to find her telephone. A few swipes later, she had found the same radio station they had listened to in the car on their way to the gardening center. The crisp sounds of The Beverley Sisters singing about their mommy kissing Santa Claus soon spread loud and clear over the field of Christmas trees.

Regitze responded by smiling; then she zoomed in on the next tree along the line to resume her in-depth analysis of what was on offer. Before long, they had made it through the entire red group without finding one even remotely matching her list of requirements for their Christmas tree. She came to a halt to rub her brow. A glance behind her at the trees she had discarded failed to produce anything worthwhile, so she and Cecilie moved further onto the blue group which represented the second-to-lowest category of trees at the field.

"Hon," Cecilie said as Nat King Cole's velvety tones were heard from the telephone singing about being out Caroling, Caroling , "if the trees with the red labels weren't good enough, I'm pretty sure the blue ones won't be, either. And definitely not those in the white category… from what I can see, they're just one step above being used as more woodchips."

Stopping her thorough examination of the evergreen vegetation near her, Regitze rubbed her brow a little more as she took in the sight of the trees that carried the blue labels. Beyond those, the trees featuring the white labels were completely useless to her in all their semi-bare-branched crookedness. "Hmmm… yes. You're right. Hmmm. I think we need to go back to the red group and take another peek there. I want it to be just right. You know, bushy but not too bushy. The branches need to be solid enough to support the gold candle-holders, but not so much so it'll appear top-heavy. The trunk needs to be straight, not crooked so there's no risk of it tilting when it's been decorated. It needs to have a good, sturdy top for the Christmas angel as well, of course. And it needs to have that certain something… character. Spirit. Soul."

"In short, you want the perfectly designed tree. Hon, these things are made by nature… and by definition, nature isn't perfect."

"Well, I know that, silly…" Regitze said and swatted at her wife's tummy. When all she got out of it was a crooked grin, she stuck out her tongue as a response. "I don't want it to be perfect in an artificial kind of way. Just… just… well, my kind of perfect."


"Come on, let's take another tour of the red field," Regitze said and set off to do just that. "I'm sure there's a good tree out there for us. We just need to find it."

Cecilie briefly removed her baseball cap to scratch her nut-brown hair. "Uh-huh?" she said as the telephone relayed Vic Damone singing about chestnuts roasting over an open fire. The cap was soon back on her head and pulled firmly into place. "Well, it's only December ninth… we got two weeks to find a good one. Hey, maybe they'll let us put up our tent!"


"Yeah! I mean, we could camp out and everything!" Cecilie said in a voice that held more than a few sly undertones. "There's plenty of space around here for it. We could roast some marshmallows and make hot cocoa and have a fun time-"

"Oh, keep quiet!" Regitze said in a low, dangerous voice that was offset by a sparkling gleam in her eyes.

"Ah… yes, dear!"


While Elvis Presley promised he would be home for Christmas, Cecilie and Regitze continued their tireless tour of the premises. A lengthy list of old and new Yuletide favorites went by as the two women did a second, third, fourth and ultimately a fifth lap of the vast field. They were joined by heaps of families who, judging by the trees they carried back to the gardening center's gravelly parking lot, seemed to have no problems finding one that was to their liking - Regitze just said "Hmmm!" a lot while she kept her eyes glued to the evergreen pines around them.

The winds had picked up since their arrival at the gardening center and the ambient temperature had dipped a few degrees as well: their breaths had now become visible as faint plumes of white steam. Cecilie's experienced eye studied the gray cloud formations that slowly rolled in from the east. The irregular behemoths in the sky weren't yet close enough to block out the faint sun, but when it happened, it was a given the temperature would drop even further. The fjord was only two kilometers away to the east, and it never failed to lure in snow flurries from the Baltic Sea during the cold months. It appeared the first ones of the new winter were about to make an unwelcome appearance.

She still carried the ax over her shoulder like any proper lumberjack would, but the heavy instrument had begun to weigh even more than it had when she had rented it. Coming to a halt, she put down the sharp tool and let the wooden handle rest against her leg. While The Cadillacs doo-wop'ed their way through the old tale about the red-nosed reindeer over the telephone, she maintained a neutral expression so her wife would not be disheartened. "How about that one? That's kinda neat," she eventually said, pointing at a random tree.

Regitze took a brief look before she shook her head. "No."

"That one there?"

Another brief look was followed by another shake of the head. "No."

"That one over there?"

"For the third time, no. Are you getting tired?"

"Nah. But I was only kidding before about putting up a tent… I mean, we've been out here-" - Cecilie looked at the small clock in the top-right corner of her telephone - "for an hour and a half now. More, actually. And I think the weather's about to make a change for the worse."

"Perhaps so, but the tree needs to be just right or else there's no point to the whole thing," Regitze said as she turned away to resume her search for the perfect specimen.

Cecilie grimaced; The Marcels chose the moment to wish everyone a Merry Twist-Mas . She had little interest in performing the old party dance in her present situation, but the song cared little and played on. "Much longer and Santa really will call in a search and rescue team… one of those mountain dogs with a keg of brandy around its neck," she mumbled as she picked up the ax and carried on.


Five additional Christmas classics came and went before Regitze let out a happy squeal some fifty yards' distance from where Cecilie had taken up semi-permanent residence out of sheer boredom. "I think we got it! Ooooh, I think we got it!" the excited blonde cried as she bobbed up and down while clapping her gloved hands.

"Thank Gawd," Cecilie mumbled as she once again picked up the ax and shuffled across the fresh woodchips. Her wife had not yet calmed down by the time the two women caught up with each other, and that was a good sign. Right on cue, Yogi Yorgesson ' yust' went nuts at Christmas.

The red-labeled tree that Regitze circled while grinning from ear to ear was bushy but not too bushy; its branches were solid without appearing top-heavy, and the trunk was ramrod-straight so it could keep its balance even after being decorated with scores of Danish flags, lametta, bells, little Elves, colorful glass balls and the pre-requisite gold candle-holders. The top was perhaps a little too fuzzy for the figure of the angel to sit properly, but it was nothing Cecilie's sharp gardening shears could not cure with a trim here and a snip there.

"Yeah, I guess that's a neat tree," Cecilie said as she put down the ax once more. "But tell me, does it have soul?"

"It's got soul!" Regitze said, clapping her hands all over again. She circled it another time before she took a step back and assumed a no-nonsense expression. "Okay, you can chop it down now."

Cecilie let out a brief chuckle at the determination heard in her wife's voice; then she took a solid two-hand grip on the wooden handle. She was in the middle of the first backswing when-


Halting the swing halfway through, Cecilie froze in place like she had somehow become stuck in time. A moment or two went by before she let out a long sigh and lowered the sharp tool again. "So… it's not the right one after all?" she said in a monotone. The sigh and the words left her as a long plume of steam that drifted away on the chilly breeze.

Regitze rubbed her chin and cheeks several times as she took in the particulars of the Christmas tree she had chosen. It met all the requirements of her list - and even exceeded a few of them - but whether or not it was truly the right one was obviously a bone-tough decision to make for her. "Oh, I… I think it is, but… oh. I don't know… what do you think?" she said, wiggling in place like a family of earthworms had slithered their way up into her Old Rose down jacket.

Another sigh escaped Cecilie's lips. It was quieter than the first one she had let out so Regitze would not think she was fed up with the whole deal, but it was definitely a long, slow one that explained pretty well what she felt. "I think it's an awesome tree, hon," she eventually said with a nod.

"You do? And you're not just saying that to get out of the cold?"

"Nope. It'll be just right for our living room." On the telephone, The Platters seemed to agree with Cecilie by singing about finding a Christmas tree of their own.

Much rubbing and scratching of chin, cheeks, nose, ears and brow ensued before Regitze relented: "All right. Let's take this one. It's the best one I've found so far… and… oh, I guess we can't stay here all day. Would you mind if I took the first swing?"

"Uh… no. Of course not," Cecilie said and handed the ax to her wife. "Just be careful, okay? It's heavy so you'll need to have a solid two-hand grip on it. And while you do that, I'm gonna go way-way-way over here so you'll have plenty of room for your first swing," she continued as she turned around and moved away a good ten meters.

"Aw! Chicken!" Regitze said before she stuck out her tongue. After removing her fleece gloves to obtain the maximum grip on the wooden handle, she performed a wild swing that made the blade's sharp edge make a thwacking impact onto the trunk. Despite her best efforts, the results were meager: a four-centimeter long piece of bark fell off, but the trunk itself had not even been nicked. "Oooookay. That's harder than it looks. Help, please…" she said after she had studied the epicenter closely.

"Ask and you shall receive," Cecilie said with a chuckle. Taking the ax, she used her many skills to fell the Christmas tree with a short sequence of powerful strokes.


On the telephone, Ol' Blue Eyes let the world know that while the weather outside was frightful, at least the fire was delightful. Everyone present at the field of Christmas trees sang - or hummed - along to the old classic as they made their way back to the main barrack of the gardening center carrying trees large and small. Some families had even felled more than one tree so the grandparents could get one as well.

Cecilie did her favorite outdoorsy-lumberjack-thing by having the wooden handle of the sharp ax resting on her left shoulder; her right hand held the freshly chopped stump of the tree as she and her wife joined the others shuffling back across the woodchips.

Regitze followed in Cecilie's tracks at four paces' distance holding up the other end of the tree - not because there was no room for them to walk side by side, but because she insisted on keeping an eye on the fragile top at all times to make sure it would not drag on the coarse ground and thus be worn down ahead of time. That the prickly branches poked her here, there and everywhere was an unfortunate byproduct that she had to live with.

"How's it going back there?" Cecilie said over her shoulder after a few dozen meters.

Regitze needed to adjust her knitted cap that had been knocked askew by an errant branch before she could answer: "Oh, just fine, thank you! How far do we need to go? I can't see a thing around the darn tree…"

"Not far. Seventy meters or so… it looks like we may end up in a long line to pay for the tree once we get there, though," Cecilie said as she looked ahead. Because of her height, she was able to see above the shoulders of most of the people around them - what she saw made her furrow her brow.

The line she referred to was already of an impressive length, and she could see no signs that it would grow any less impressive before they would reach the tail end of it. A makeshift booth with a cash register had been set up using a broad plank and a couple of upturned apple crates; everyone who had bought a tree needed to pay there, but it was only manned by a single employee who was powerless to stop the line from growing exponentially despite working as fast as he could.


Cecilie had read the signs - or the lack of them - right. Once she and Regitze reached the end of the snaking line leading to the cash register, it had grown longer rather than shorter which created another lengthy delay for the intrepid would-be lumberjacks. To give her right hand some rest, she put the Christmas tree down on the ground stump-first; Regitze was there in an instant to keep it steady so not a single needle would be bent the wrong way.

Everywhere around them, little children, teens, adults and grandparents dressed in colorful winter gear seemed to have a fun day out despite the mounting chill and the interminable wait to pay for the trees they had selected. The volume of the cheerful chattering around them was consistent with the length of the line - in other words, it was loud.

With all the merry chitter-chatter going on near them, there was no point in having the telephone tuned to the Christmas radio station any longer. Cecilie closed the app just as Gustav Winckler sang about Old Papa Elf sitting in the attic enjoying a bowl of rice pudding. When the song continued completely unperturbed by the shutdown, she performed a puzzled double-take at the small screen until she realized the music came from someone else's smartphone. Shrugging, she put her own away and turned back to Regitze: "If we come back next year, I think we need to be here a little earlier in the day… half the county has shown up by the looks of it."

"Is that a dig at my meticulousness?" Regitze said, narrowing her eyes.

"Nope. Just a statement of fact."

A golden eyebrow crept up Regitze's face until it reached the edge of her knitted cap. She looked at her wife, the tree, the line, the tree again and finally back at her wife. "Well, I could have chosen a random tree the first minute we got here… but I didn't. It needs to be purr-fect. This one is. It's got-"

"Character. Yeah, you told me. I would've been happy with just a random one, though," Cecilie said and moved up her John Deere Special Products baseball cap so she had room to scratch her hair. "I thought the first one we looked at was kinda neat…"

"But it wasn't. Not only didn't it have soul, it didn't speak to me," Regitze said around the evergreen branches of the tree she still held onto for dear life.

"Oh-ho, so this one actually spoke to you?" Cecilie said, leaning closer to the shorter woman so she could deliver the little jesting for her ears only. "So what did it say? Please Regitze, chop me down at the root and keep me locked up in your home for three weeks… after which you can throw me in the incinerator?"

Regitze's jaw worked overtime for a few moments before she stuck out her tongue around a prickly branch. "Something like that, yes. And don't forget we have a lovely ottoman in the guest room. It'll offer a great place for you to sleep for the next couple-a nights if you keep this up."

"I'll be a good girl now," Cecilie said and pretended to zip her lips. Grinning, she turned back to Regitze to deliver a small shoulder-bump to show that all was well in the Clausen household.

One of the many young children near them suddenly let out an excited squeal that was rapidly followed by a cry in a fair voice: "There's Santa! Oooooooooh, it's Santa! Look-look-look, it's Santa!" It only took a moment or two before all the other children joined in and began to jump up and down in barely restrained anticipation of the epic encounter.

As everyone followed the children's wild gesticulating to look in the direction of the main building, a hefty Santa Claus did indeed come out of the gardening center closely followed by a female employee dressed like a human-sized lady-Elf. Santa had his customary canvas bag of toys over his shoulder while the lady-Elf carried a large tray holding hot drinks and ceramic bowls loaded to the brim with traditional Danish Yuletide treats.

The white-bearded Santa wore his regular costume which consisted of a suit made of red velvet, black boots with brass buckles, a wide belt made of black leather, and finally white gloves. Just like the worldwide dress code for santas dictated, the wraparound jacket and the pair of large pants both had patches of white fur at the various hems.

The lady-Elf wore black clog-boots, tan long-stockings and a Yuletide-red dress that covered a knitted sweater featuring vertical stripes that alternated between red and pale-gray. Santa Claus and the lady-Elf obviously wore floppy-coned Yuletide hats that reached down to their shoulders.

While Santa mingled among the children ho-ho-ho'ing to his and their hearts' delight, the lady-Elf moved around the adults offering some of the Christmas treats she had on the tray. There were heat-resistant glass mugs filled with steaming hot gløgg - a Danish version of mulled wine: the mugs contained raisins, chopped almonds and plenty of Yuletide spices in addition to the cooked scarlet-red wine - as well as large cups of equally hot chocolate and a few mugs of tea produced by a local company.

The ceramic bowls contained all the Danish Yuletide favorites that were expected to be present at such an event: peppernuts, crullers, cardamom-laced brown cookies, vanilla rings, ginger cookies, honey-cake squares, and finally rectangular cookies coated in a heady blend of cinnamon and white sugar.

Even more excitement blossomed among everyone waiting in line when a pair of junior-Elves - dressed appropriately in gray clog-boots, forest-green outfits and red Yuletide hats - ran out of the gardening center's main building carrying several glass jars of blackcurrant jam and ceramic bowls filled with freshly-baked, steaming hot æbleskiver that had been sprinkled with confectioners' sugar like tradition demanded.

"Awright! It's munch-time!" Cecilie cried as she reached out to snatch two cups of hot chocolate for herself and Regitze. A large handful of peppernuts and cardamom brown cookies were scooped up next; she proceeded to stuff them into her mouth at once. Crunching loudly on the traditional Yuletide treats, she could only grin at the astounded look upon her wife's face - the grin soon had to take a back seat to more merry crunching.

"It's not like we didn't have lunch, you know," Regitze said a few moments later while she tried to keep her steaming-hot chocolate inside the cup without letting go of the precious tree. "There's so much sugar and fat in those cookies…"

"You better believe there is! That's why they taste so great, and that's why I love 'em so!" Cecilie said between crunches. Once she had gulped down the first mouthful and had taken a cautious first swig of the steaming hot chocolate, she leaned over to nudge Regitze's shoulder. "G'wan, grab an æbleskive or two and some jam. I know you want to!"

"Well… they do smell awfully good…" Regitze said, tracking the two junior Elves who ran around offering the æbleskiver and the jam free of charge to improve the mood of the people waiting in the long line.

"Yep! And I'll bet they taste even good'er!"

A long groan escaped Regitze's throat at Cecilie's juvenile phrasing, but her eyes never left the ceramic bowls that held the æbleskiver . Though her hot chocolate had cooled off enough by now for her to take a first swig, the firm grip she had on the tree made it difficult for her to accomplish the task - in fact, it nearly gave her a chocolate-brown shower down the front of her Old Rose jacket.

"Naw, that won't work," Cecilie said with a grin before she drained her own cup. "I better hold the tree and your chocolate while you raid the bowls!"

"All right, you convinced me… do you want any- forget I asked," Regitze said, chuckling over the way Cecilie's eyes lit up at the mere promise of the steaming hot, sweet, crunchy and above all tasty Christmas treats.


The Yuletide fun had to come to an end at some point, and the trays, jars and bowls carried by the Elves had all soon been cleaned-out down to the final drop and crumb. As Santa Claus, the lady-Elf and the two juniors withdrew to the main building of the gardening center to regain their strength after being at the frantic eye of the events for the past twenty minutes, Cecilie and Regitze finally reached the over-worked employee manning the cash register.

Though stressed from the constant work and the high tempo needed to combat the long line that had formed across the gravelly parking lot, the employee was friendly enough and even threw in a free protective netting since the new owners of the proud Christmas tree needed to transport it in their car.

Two-hundred-and-fifty kroner duly exchanged hands. Although it was a lot of money for something they would put up and decorate on December twentieth and throw out twelve days later on January first, it was nevertheless a reasonable price for such a healthy tree.

Even so, Cecilie could not help but do a mental calculation of how many cans of her favorite beer, the Schatzkammerbräu Regular Pilsner, she could have bought for the same amount down at Alvin's Supermarket in Fjordby: in excess of one hundred cans was the short answer - it would have taken her three full years to consume that much beer, and that included summer parties and various birthdays. A small sigh escaped her as she took a firm grip on the wrapped tree and began to shuffle back to their car.


Finding the right tree had been a challenge; paying for it had been an even bigger challenge, but the most challenging parts of the afternoon's field excursion were yet to come for Cecilie and Regitze: first up, they needed to master the new Winter Olympic discipline known as 'Crossing a parking lot that contains more vehicles than the average rush hour traffic jam.'

A steady stream of sedans, station wagons and SUVs drove in and out of the gardening center's uneven, gravelly lot as more and more people flocked to the field of Christmas trees.

It seemed that everyone had their radios or telephones tuned to the same station because Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong was here, there and everywhere singing about a winter wonderland in his inimitable style. The old chestnut was heard from nearly all of the vehicles as they drove past the two women which created a surreal effect akin to being stuck in a time-warp.

"Yikes," Cecilie said, constantly moving her head left and right while staring wide-eyed at the colorful parade in front of her. The wrapped tree was resting on its stump on the ground, but she had a firm grip on it to be ready to hustle whenever a gap appeared. "We need a buncha Yuletide Elves to control traffic here… on the double!"

"Or Frosty the Snowman…" Regitze mumbled.

"Yeah, he'd do too… oh, here's a gap! Let's get over to the Skoda while we can! And watch out for those potholes!" Cecilie said as she put her long legs to good use. Regitze's shorter legs meant she needed to move them faster than her wife's, but she kept up by jogging along.


The final part of the final challenge - the worst one as it turned out - chose the very last hurdle to play a devious trick on the two women. The tall, proud Christmas tree was five inches too long for the space provided by the Skoda Fabia's interior. No matter how Cecilie pushed, shoved, nudged and cajoled the wrapped tree, it was just too long and unwieldy to fit even with the foldable rear seats moved down to the lower stop.

"Yeah. Okay. Uh-huh. Right," she said, moving back from the recalcitrant tree to scratch her forehead. Grimacing, she glanced at the Skoda's smooth roof. Back in the olden days when all cars had rain gutters above the doors, a quick and efficient solution to their problem would have been to simply attach a roof rack and tie the Christmas tree to that.

That was no longer an option as the modern vehicular marvels had all been designed in a wind tunnel with an eye on maximizing the aero-efficiency. The only solution was to stuff the tree in the back; unfortunately the only option came up short since the object in question was simply too long. Unless they drove home with the right-front side-window rolled down to allow the top of the tree to poke out, the problem would prove to be unsolvable.

"Uh… hon," Cecilie said as she tried to shuffle the tree around once more in the hope of finding the extra inches she needed - her attempts yielded nothing. Moving back, she screwed a smile on her face as she turned back to her wife. "If you sit on the right in the back and we put the tree in diagonally and, uh, leave the passenger-side window half-open, we may-"

"Drive home in near-freezing conditions with an open window?! No thank you! That's a double pneumonia waiting to happen!" Regitze said, shaking her head vehemently.

"Well, we do have a heater…"

"No. No open window. No."

"Okay," Cecilie said, grimacing even harder. She pushed her baseball cap back from her forehead to have room for a thorough scratching of her nut-brown locks. Nothing came to her so she tried to shut the hatchback in the hope the tree had grown shorter in the meantime.

The last-gasp measure was to no avail as the stump was still poking out. In theory, she had the option of tying the hatch down with a luggage-tie or another kind of cable, rope or wire. She had a piece of rope available, but the user's manual strongly advised against such a procedure as it would lead the exhaust fumes directly into the rear of the car. It was too risky, so she discarded the idea at once.

Instead, she considered forcing the tree in there with a mighty shove, but that would leave the hard stump dangerously close to the sloped rear window. She could already hear the characteristic sound of breaking glass as a result of hitting the first bump in the road on their way home - she would prefer to avoid that particular outcome if at all possible. "Okay… hmmm…" she said, taking her John Deere cap off completely so she could rub her scalp all over.

The ambient temperature had continued its downward slide as the afternoon had grown late, so to stay warm, Regitze needed to shuffle around on the spot despite wearing a knitted hat, the Old Rose down jacket, her favorite fleece gloves and a pair of sturdy winter jeans. The plumes of steam that escaped her mouth when she spoke offered a perfect illustration of her words: "Listen, it's getting pretty chilly out here so I have a suggestion. Driving home and then back here is only a twenty-five-minute round trip. Why don't you and Mr. Sub-Zero drive the tree home with the window rolled down? In the meantime, I'll stay here and do another tour of the wonderful Elfin village down in the basement. Once you've put the tree into the shed, you can come back here and pick me up. Obviously with the heater going full blast so it won't be an ice cube when you get here."

Now Cecilie really grimaced. The sound of breaking glass was swept away by the numerous, greedy ka-chings made by the cash register when it had to deal with Regitze's second shopping spree for all things Elfin. "Mmmm… yeah. I guess," she mumbled. This conundrum called for a proper brow-sweep, so she took off her baseball cap once more to run the sleeve of her thick winter jacket across her forehead.

Regitze let out a chuckle at her pragmatic wife's apparent frustration at not being able to get the darn tree to do as she wished. "I think that's the way we should do it. But tell you what… I can hear I need to sweeten the deal, so how about we made some hot tea when we get home? Waffles. Whipped cream. Maybe a glass or two of toffee liqueur to round off the splendor… mmmm?"

"Tell you what," Cecilie said, echoing her wife's words as she plonked the baseball cap back on her head and closed the distance between them. When they were within reach, Cecilie wrapped her long arms around Regitze's down jacket and pulled her in for a squeeze. A kiss was in order, and the sweet contact was duly carried out. A second kiss followed hot on the heels of the first one just because. "It's only Christmas once a year… knock yourself out down there in Elf Springs. And when we get home, I'll treat you to a little Christmas extravaganza involving pureed strawberries, melted chocolate, the good ruby port and one or two other nice things. How about that?"

"Ooooh! I'm holding you to it," Regitze said with a voice that dipped into the lowest register. A mischievous, little smile flickered across her lips as the pink tip of her tongue came out to play. Everyone had that special something that kicked their love motor into life; Regitze's special something was red, round and juicy, and went by the name 'strawberry.'

Cecilie mirrored the mischievous smile before she nodded at her wife and pulled back to once more be at arms' length. "Deal," she said, adding a little wink to the promises she had made.


The stereo system installed in their metallic-blue Skoda Fabia was once again tuned to the radio station playing all the Christmas classics. As Cecilie reversed out of the parking slot, Dinah Shore did her best to spruce up the Yuletide festivities by inviting everyone over for a Merry Christmas Polka, but Cecilie only had eyes for Regitze who waited in the doorway to the gardening center's main building.

After sending a pair of matching, and highly enthusiastic, waves across the crowded parking lot, Cecilie set off for home with her down jacket zipped up to just under her nose and her baseball cap pulled down the furthest it would go. On her right, the firmly-wrapped Christmas tree was in its element as it had a perfect, unobstructed view of the wintery world they were soon to drive past - Cecilie, on the other hand, needed every bit of help she could get to combat the freezing hurricane that came blasting in through the open passenger-side window.

She briefly looked at the tree and then herself in the rear-view mirror before she drove out onto the country road to begin the icy trip home. "Next year," she mumbled as she moved up through the gears. "I'm gonna buy a plastic Christmas tree no matter what Regitze says…"




Return to the Academy

Author's Page