Cutting the Christmas tree ourselves is a significant tradition that dates well back to the years before I was married, with the whole family going together to select and cut it, as we still do. The ranks have grown considerably over the decades and have included guests from foreign countries.
This year we went to our favorite tree farm on a hillside outside the quaint hamlet of Singers Glen with all of our children and grandchildren, the youngest just four months old. Quite an adventure. The little people were especially excited, but a good time was had by all. Finding the candy cane tree is the ultimate challenge. Weary from the steep incline, three yr. old granddaughter Emma confided to me, “Dumma (as I’m called because our oldest grandson couldn’t say his G’s so Gumma became Dumma) this gonna be a hard day finding that candy cane tree.” But we did. A happy shout from our son-in-law sent everyone tramping off down another side of the hill.
To mix things up this year, my college art major daughter, Elise, suggested we get the ugliest tree we could find for our immediate household and see what we could do with it. Six year old Ian thought this was a great idea, however, after he’d helped cut it, Ian asked, “Dad has out tree, right?” He didn’t want to get stuck with a dud.
The couple who own the tree farm were glad someone still liked Charlie Brown trees, thinking they’d never sell this one. Not only do they have a beautiful farm, but a wonderful old spring house where the wife serves hot chocolate and visits with guests by a cozy fire in the vintage hearth and children are invited to choose an ornament to take home from their decorated tree. This is the best Christmas tree farm ever.
Visitors from China who’ve stayed with my parents over the years have found this tradition of trekking off to cut an evergreen ourselves rather fascinating, as they do the whole concept of stuffing a large tree into our house and decorating it with eclectic baubles, like the glittered light bulbs our son made when he was in first grade, or the dough angel with glasses my brother created some time ago. But that’s another story.
In the beginning of our marriage my hubby didn’t yet grasp the importance of this communal tree-gathering experience, the snow or mud squelching beneath our boots, haggling over the merits of every pine and spruce on the tree farm honored by our presence. Shortly before December 25th, that first year of wedded bliss, DH turned up with a tree he’d purchased from the local rescue squad––already cut.
I sadly contemplated the little evergreen and tried to make it my own, but this was not to be. Realizing his gross error, Dennis accompanied me at his first opportunity to a neighbor’s farm where we were given free rein to choose a tree from the field that had gone to cedars. After careful searching, he sawed down the tree of our choice, with far less debate than there is now with all the added opinions.
Still, there were difficulties. We hadn’t ever cut a cedar on our own before and didn’t realize how they sometimes grow. When we cut the trunk shorter to fit in the stand, it fell apart into three trees, none of them suitable.
My father, a veteran cedar cutter, took me for the third and final time to choose a tree from the farm our family had traditionally patronized. By this point Dennis, Mom and Dad all agreed that I was becoming somewhat obsessive about the whole thing and perhaps there’s some justification in this, but the pressure was on to select the most perfect tree ever, like Papa Bear in The Berenstein Bears Christmas.
We finally found one, after considerable searching on my part and growing impatience on my father’s, not to mention cold feet. I decorated it lovingly in the little apartment Dennis and I lived in then, but I didn’t bask in its presence for long. The apartment just wasn’t home, so I spent most of the holidays at my parents’ house in front of their tree.
This year Elise and I decorated our ‘challenged’ tree with strings of popcorn and lights, as it’s rather skimpy to hold the traditional ornaments. All in all, it’s not a bad little tree. Quite pretty, really. Six yr. old Ian is impressed.
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