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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It Starts With A Christmas Tree

I realize I am writing this on Christmas Eve and that my Christmas tree is now on its third week sitting in my living room, but I am okay with that.  At least its Christmas Eve and I have already wrapped and carefully placed everything under the tree.  My husband, well he can't say the same about his gifts as he sits in the other room wrapping at 10pm.  I don't feel the least bit bad... this is why I wrapped early and wrapped often!  

So, my Christmas tree.  

First of all, it is a real tree.  You bet your butt it is a real tree.  I know that many people, especially lately are resorting to fake trees.  They are packed up in boxes and bins, just like the ornaments that decorate them, and then tossed aside for another 11 months.  


I have to have a real tree. 


Well its certainly not to vacuum up the millions of pine needles that sprinkle my living room and manage to turn up in the middle of July, months after the tree has been disposed of.  Nor is it because I have to contort to weird positions every other day to fill its stand with water, all the while hoping to not to soak my floor.  Nope.  

The reason I get a real tree is mostly the fun of actually getting the tree.  

We actually make sort of an ordeal out of getting our Christmas tree, especially now that we live far away from our loyal Christmas Tree Farm.  Every year, for the fifth year now, we go to the same family Christmas Tree Farm in far northern New Hampshire.  It pretty much takes a whole day, because its about two hours away from where we live now, but its worth it.  

The day starts with an early drive up north.  We stop at a bargain department store where we shop for discount Christmas decorations, nic-nacks, wrapping paper, and such.  Then we mosey up to the farm before heading to my in-laws for a visit.  But, the tree farm is clearly the main attraction for the day.

As soon as we pull in the gentleman that runs the farm, which sits on several dozens of acres, drives a tractor with a wagon up to us.  "Hop on in and I will give you a ride to the top!" he exclaims in a cheery voice every single time.  Normally we walk, but this year we opted for a ride, because Emily is at that awkward stage where she is too big to carry and too small to hike up a landscape like that. 

Once we reached the top of the hill the view was great, but the wind was COLD.  The Christmas Tree Farmer dropped us off and went to turn the wagon and tractor around - which is pretty hard amongst a grove of Christmas trees.  

In the time that it took the Christmas Tree Farmer to pull a u-turn we managed to find our tree.  Shawn promptly cut it down as Emily supervised.  We saw in the distance another couple looking for a tree.  On the way down the Christmas Tree Farmer shared with us that they had been up there almost an hour looking for a tree.  It was about twenty degrees with a stiff 15mph north wind, too cold to be up there longer than the two minutes it took us to find a tree.  And in reality, there are many great trees to choose from there.... no way it should take anyone an hour!  

So down we went, tree in our possession, freezing our buns off.  We were rewarded for our cold journey with warm hot chocolate, cookies, and candy canes, without cost, at the bottom of the hill in the Christmas Tree Farmer's warm garage that's heated by a behemoth of a wood stove.  Sufficiently warm, toasty, and stuffed with snacks we then left the Christmas Tree Farm and headed to visit our nearby family.  Another year continuing a cool tradition.  

Now the tree is decorated and an visit from Santa is pending, any moment now.  Emily is snug in her bed and I am beyond excited for tomorrow, almost as excited as I was for Christmas as a little kid.  There is a special awesomeness to becoming a parent at Christmastime.  

And it all starts with a Christmas Tree.  


Anonymous said...

Cute post! Merry Christmas and I hope that Emily found lots of loot from Santa under that tree.

Kristin said...

Hey! Don't mock my pre-lit out of the box wonder. :-) We have a fake tree for a few reasons. The first is that growing up in Michigan, my dad was like the family you mentioned above. It took hours in the freezing cold for him to pick the perfect tree. Scarred for life. The second reason is that tree sap makes me break out into hives. I decorated the tree as a child wearing rubber kitchen gloves. So we have had the same fake tree since my husband and I got married, and the memories are just as wonderful each time I go into the attic and take it out of the box.

First off, we bought it when we lived in a furnished apartment as a newlywed couple on the 17th floor of a northern Virginia executive apartment building. There was no possibility of a real tree at that point, as it would have involved an elevator and a parking garage. We didn't even own a vacuum cleaner because the apartment came with a cleaning service. That's the year we were supposed to go to Puerto Rico for Christmas, but our flight was canceled and we ended up driving to Florida eating Sonic on Christmas Day.

Two years later we were stationed in Florida. There is no point in having a real tree in Florida. It's expensive and the suckers die at double the speed. We decorated our fake tree with surfing Santas that first year, and added our son's first Christmas ornament the next, right after finding out he was already going to be a big brother.

The next year I tried to skip the tree. My husband was in Iraq, I had two young kids to chew on fake tree limbs. Then I got word my husband would be home for Christmas. I dragged that tree out of our storage facility with the help of my brother-in-law and covered the bottom with plastic and stuffed ornaments. I spent more time chasing children away from the tree than I did enjoying it, but I was grateful the tree got to be there as our family got to spend Christmas together. That was the first time my husband met our son Hank. My favorite memory from that year.

The last two years our tree has held a sacred place of honor in our basement family room, far from little hands. Except this year, my three year old helped me put it up. He was finally old enough to understand the concept of decorating, and I was so grateful that all I had to do was pop the tree out of the box and plug it in so that we could get started. Daddy was in Afghanistan this Christmas, so having the opportunity to just grab the tree and have that moment with our oldest was priceless.

It might not be a real tree, and we might not trek through the snow to get it, but having the same tree each year holds its own special place when it comes to making memories. :-)

Suzanne Mc said...

I had not checked out your blog in a while. Your baby is getting so big. Mine are now 13 and 15. It goes so fast. Enjoy every moment. I know...I a mother you hear that from all the older moms, but it is so true.

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